It was a 48-point win to the Dogs in what looks, on paper, at least, to be a cakewalk.

Apologies to Magpie fans for stealing a line from their song to open the review, but it sets the tone well. It looks like the Dogs did it easy, but the reality of the situation is that during the last quarter, there was a brief moment when the Pies looked as though they were set to challenge. It was a long shot, but it was still a shot.

Ultimately, a push in the back by Jordan de Goey and the type of reaction to the free-kick that my daughter would have if she accidentally ingested some shellfish, and the game was put to bed, courtesy of a 50-metre penalty for dissent.

Should I be mentioning this in the intro?

Possibly not, but as a neutral supporter, if you ever wanted to see an umpiring decision suck the life out of a game, head to the last 15 or so minutes of this game and you can almost visibly see the air leave the stadium. It was a momentum killer, and if I am being honest, it is the second implementation of the rule for the evening that made me want to throw my hands up and walk away. We don’t have AFL affiliation – we can say that.

The Dogs’ midfield was dominant in this one, sharing the footy around as they were powered by the top seven ball-winners on the park. It was an impressive display that saw the big names star, and often left the Pies chasing tail… and not the way Jordan de Goey goes about it in New York clubs…

… although there was a bit of anger from each team at the final siren, so all in all, maybe not too dissimilar.

So, there is plenty to get through in this one – let’s jump into The Mongrel’s Big Questions.

 

WAS THIS THE GAME ADAM TRELOAR HAS BEEN WAITING TO HAVE?

It was nice to see Pies fans clap for Adam Treloar at one stage of the game. He deserves it – he didn’t want to leave Collingwood, remember?

I bet they wish he’d stayed.

On a night where the Dogs’ midfield was outstanding, Treloar was the best of them. Notching 36 touches and slotting three goals for the game, this is the type of impact I am positive Treloar would have dreamed of having when he was traded to the Western Bulldogs.

At least the Pies can take heart that someone they’re partially paying for is playing so well, right?

Ouch.

I admit that at times, I have been a bit concerned about the Western Bulldogs having too many Chiefs and not enough Indians in their on-ball division, but when it clicks, it clicks in a big way.

And it was clicking in this one.

Josh Dunkley shifted between the forward line and the middle, snagging himself a couple of contested marks inside 50 and finishing with three goals to match the output of Treloar, whilst Bailey Smith topped 40 touches for the second time this season, and Jack Macrae notched 37 of his own.

It was a complete performance by the Bulldogs mids, dominating the Pies at stoppages to be +16 on the night, and having a monster 15-7 centre clearance advantage. Whilst there were plenty of stars for the Dogs, Treloar was the brightest, and though I am positive he will be rapt with this performance, I reckon there is one small part of him that wishes he’d done it before Nathan Buckley left the club.

That would have been all the sweeter.

 

DO THE DOGS NEED THE MIDFIELD TO HIT THE SCOREBOARD LIKE THIS TO WIN?

“Need” is probably the wrong word, but geez, it takes the pressure off when they do.

Eight of the Dogs’ 14 goals for the evening came from the boot of mids or wingmen, with Dunkley and Treloar the main contributors. When you add in that Bailey Smith and Jack Macrae had three misses between them, you start to see the bigger picture in regard to how deadly the Dogs’ mids were in this game.

We’re looking at after the bye for the return of Josh Bruce, I believe, but in the meantime, if they can get this type of output from their running players, it forces the opposition half-backs to peel off their men in an effort to clug things up.

Once they start doing that, players like single female lawyer, Lachie McNeil, and Cody Weightman when he returns, will have a field day.

 

WHERE DID THE PIES FALL DOWN IN THIS ONE?

Well, when you play a team like the Dogs and you fail to hit the scoreboard early, you’re not going to have an easy time of it. That was a huge factor in the early lead – it turned out to be a match-winning lead.

However, the aspect I would like to focus on is the defensive running, or lack of it in Collingwood’s case.

Though the Dogs’ mids have not had an easy run of it this season, one thing they do as a unit is constantly remain on the move. Even laterally, you don’t often see them standing still. The names I mentioned in the section above, plus Marcus Bontempelli and Rhylee West, they are in a state of perpetual motion, and if you cannot, or unwilling to match that, this team will find space and cut you up.

So, given that we have some senior players in this Collingwood midfield, who didn’t pull their weight and run hard inside defensive fifty?

Time to name names?

Jordan de Goey would need a map and a compass to find his way back if he strayed out of the corridor for too long. If you were asked to mind him for a game, as daunting as it might seem, an intelligent coach would give you one rule to follow – stay goal side of him.

That’s it. He runs in straight lines up and down the field. No getting caught in traffic as you try to follow him – he plays the game at a basic level. Sure, he is good at it when he is permitted to be good, but he hates chasing, hates running out wide, and only ever really gets the skates on when there is a chance of finding the footy with the goals within range.

The Brown Brothers… I am unsure Collingwood can keep both of them on the list after this season. Tyler is 22, so they may see some merit in giving him more time. Callum is 24… I’m not sure what the hell he’s doing out there at times.

Josh Daicos… did he even cross the halfway point of the ground? I don’t remember seeing him getting back to help inside defensive 50. Meanwhile, the Dogs had every man and his… err, other dog getting back to help on their end.

Their half-forwards were terrible in covering their opponents, as well. Will Hoskin-Elliott, Callum Brown, Beau McCreery, Ollie Henry… they had the attention span of a particularly forgetful goldfish when it came to picking up a man on the turnover. You don’t get 63 touches from Bailey Dale and Caleb Daniel if you are “on” defensively. The Pies were not on. Not at all.

With Ed Richards playing tall and once again doing a bang-up job of it, too much was left to Brody Mihocek and Ollie Henry. Given Henry finished with 0.3 from five shots at goal, it made the Dogs’ defence look close to impenetrable.

The writing is on the wall for a couple of these blokes who may or may not be brothers, and if JDG and Daicos are not going to do their share of the heavy-lifting, the Pies need to start looking for players who will.

 

WHAT DO WE MAKE OF BUKU KHAMIS?

Firstly, can I just point out to the absolute shitheads on social media who claimed that Collingwood supporters were booing Khamis because he was black, that you’re a bunch of twats. Seriously, if you’re that desperate to find racism, I’m sure you’ll find it everywhere and anywhere… what a bunch of bedwetters.

It was not the Collingwood fans yelling boo… they were saying booo-urns.

I kid… I kid. It was the Dogs supporters yelling “Buku”. As evidenced by the fact I worked it out, it does not take a genius to get to the bottom of it.

But what do the Dogs have in Khamis (quick note to self – don’t just search Khamis on twitter… or do, if you like that type of thing)?

He moves well, has a good pair of hands and knows how to convert. He plays deep, but looking at the way he gets over the ground, our own Mongrel writer, Hodgey believes he could slot in nicely at half-back once Josh Bruce gets back. His closing speed would make a handy addition.

He finished with three goals in this one and was a big part of the fast start for the Dogs.

 

HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE MIHOCEK MISS IN THE THIRD QUARTER?

Monstrous in the context of the game.

It would have been the third-straight goal for the Pies and set them on the way to coming back. Alas, it was the Dogs, moving the footy coast to coast to finish with a goal to Anthony Scott that was the end result.

Were the Pies confident Mihocek would slot that goal? They obviously didn’t think he was going to miss from 30 metres out and the way the Dogs were able to slice through the Magpies’ “defence” on the rebound makes me think that there is the possibility that the four named in the section above may not have been the only Magpies on autopilot at times.

 

HOW GUTSY WAS AARON NAUGHTON IN THIS ONE?

That knee is obviously not at 100%, as evidenced by his continual limp after contests and a brief time off the ground riding the exercise bike to get the blood flowing a little better.

It was as though Naughton understood just how valuable his role was going to be in this game and said “I’m going to play through this”.

And play through it, he did.

Naughton kicked three goals matched up directly on Darcy Moore for most of the evening, and whilst Moore had his share of wins, the fact he was unable to consistently drift across and impact other contests indicate it was a huge win for the Dogs.

 

CAN WE PLEASE GO BACK AND TALK ABOUT THE DISSENT RULE?

Look, according to the rules and the way they’re being interpreted this season, these 50 metre penalties were well within the realms of what is expectde from the umpires at this stage. They were there – did my intro suck you in and make you think they weren’t?

Well, it was designed to do that. Just because I don’t like a decision or a rule does not mean it wasn’t above board and called correctly – I just think it is an absolute shitpile of a rule that has already been chopped and changed to within an inch of its life, much the same as the sliding-in rule has been over the years.

Remember that rule? It was introduced after Lindsay Thomas slid in feet first and broke Gary Rohan’s ankle, preventing him from ever playing well in a finals series.

Okay, I made that last bit up, but we cannot discount it.

The slide in rule morphed into contact below the knees, which was meant to protect players’ legs, but now seems more like it is there to stop people diving on the footy.

In this case of umpire dissent, the rule has been wildly inconsistent all season, and tonight saw it applied in two cases that prevented me from enjoying the game as much as I could have without them.

Buku Khamis was the first one to incur the wrath of the umps, by putting his arms out after a free-kick was paid against him. To me, it looked as though he was genuinely enquiring as to what the free-kick was for. He was not dissenting, but it didn’t matter. Whistle. 50 metres.

The next one was Jordan de Goey late in the game as the Pies were attempting to make an unlikely comeback. JDG launched at Josh Dunkley in a desperate attempt to bring him down, and in the process, landed in his back.

At that point, a despairing de Goey (Jordan de Sparing?) threw his arms out a physical manifestation of both his frustration and disappointment. He even stopped mid-gesture and composed himself.

Too late. 50 metres, Jordan.

Dunkley wandered down inside 50, slotted the goal and the game was over. You could sense right at that moment, the resistance faltered and the Pies gave it up. They were hanging by the thinnest thread, anyway. That umpire just severed it, and the Pies fell from then on.

This game aside, is this what we want to see?

Do you want to see young, exuberant, inquisitive players like Khamis shoved into their box and told to behave like a robot? Do you want to see players like de Goey, whose game is built on the Midnight Oil principle – The Power and the Passion, have to shut his trap and just accept everything without ever having a way of demonstrating his displeasure.

What these two men did was not abuse an umpire – that is what the rule should be used for, and that alone. This heavy-handed bullshit does not engender respect for umpires – if anything, it creates contempt. These umpires are not infallible – they make mistakes and are at times unclear with their descriptions. Asking for an explanation is not a sin. The players should not be nailed to a cross for it.

And imagine if it happens late in the game of a close final?

 

 

The league has painted itself into a stupid corner with this rule. They have to know it is not working – how could you not? Yet, to water it down or wind it back at this stage would give the impression that their unwavering support for the officials and their well-being is just starting to fray a little.

The rule, like most rushed and reactionary rules, is dogshit. The supporters know it. The players know. The AFL knows it, too – they just won’t admit it.

 

AND WHILE I AM AT IT, CAN I GIVE A BIT OF PRAISE TO UMPIRE 13?

I don’t know who you are. I don’t want to know who you are. Umpire 13 is good enough for me, as I dislike the fact I know umpires by name. My thinking has always been that if an umpire is great, you don’t notice them too much, but this Umpire 13 had a decision that was so good, and indicated that he had a better feel for the game than any other umpire I’ve seen this season.

The moment I am yapping about was Jack Macrae being pinged for holding -the -ball by Isaac Quaynor in the last quarter.

Earlier today, I posted a members article based on four weeks of research around holding the ball and how often it is paid. It was actions like those of Macrae in this case – ducking his head and dropping at the knees in order to draw the too-high free-kick, that are starting to make tackling at any time a dangerous decision.

Umpire 13 was onto Macrae’s shit, however. And as the whistle blew, and I am sure Macrae prepared to take the free-kick, the ump signalled the other way and gave the kick to Quaynor.

Not that you get this much in a serious game of footy, but this moment actually made me smile. It was a good… no… it was a GREAT decision by an umpire with his head screwed on right, and if the AFL are intelligent (and I think we know they’ve proven that they’re not) they’ll solicit some advice this mysterious Umpire 13 and get him to teach some of the others how to spot someone playing for a free kick…

… and how to penalise them.

Great job, umpire 13 – you’re my favourite umpire… whoever you are.

 

DOES JORDAN SWEET KEEP STEF MARTIN OUT OF THE SIDE?

He probably should.

The Dogs got Martin about three years too late. No knock on Stef – father time catches up with us all.

Sweet had 14 hit-outs to advantage in this game, beating the ten from Darcy Cameron. At 24, he has 11 years on Stef – the Dogs are in this for a long time, and hopefully, a good time, too.

 

IF AIDEN BEGG IS BEING PLAYED OVER MASON COX, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It means that Aiden Begg is 19 and Mason Cox is 31.

Begg does not appear ready for senior footy, but is in the side anyway.

The Cox experiment is well and truly over.

 

LAST ONE – WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR RHYLEE WEST?

This is interesting – I think he has the potential to be a very good midfielder, but as part of this Western Bulldogs team, he is going to struggle for time in the middle.

Have a think about it – who is he going to push out?

Libba? Not yet. Bont? Nope. Macrae? Nope. Treloar? If you watched the game I just did, again, nope. Dunkley? Not the way he’s playing. Bailey Smith? One of the best emerging mids in the game – nope.

It does not leave a hell of a lot of room to move for West, who played a pretty solid game of footy, but when lined up against all those 30+ disposal performances for the Dogs, his numbers look ordinary.

I wonder if there is a bit of Josh Kennedy to Sydney, or Tom Mitchell to Hawthorn on the horizon for West? Both those players were given opportunities elsewhere due to the lack of spots at their original clubs. They were not held to ransom – they were permitted to leave with the blessing of their teams, and it worked out wonderfully well for all.

Maybe the Dogs can aid West finding a team that needs him, when it is obvious the Dogs don’t?

Off the top of my head, teams like Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Geelong, and Adelaide are in situations where a good young midfielder ready to blossom could come in and make a big difference. Whilst I am sure Dogs fans would like him to remain at the Kennel, he’s played 13 games and this is his fourth year on the list.

He’s out of contract after this year. If he is not part of the best 22 on a regular basis, let him become that elsewhere.

 

And that will about do me. As always, massive thanks to our members… if this review seems a little disjointed – found out my daughter is allergic to shellfish this evening… the hard way. Was a bit panicked for a while. All good now. Cheers – HB

 

The Greatest Tackler The Game Has Seen?

 

Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get it!