Collingwood v Richmond – Mongrel Talking Points

The Pies moved to 3-0 with a very solid win over strong, yet somehow ineffective competition at the MCG in front of over 85,000 footy lovers.

It seems funny that so many people questioned whether Collingwood would be able to repeat or better their 2022 season, which saw them get over the line by small margins so often. It makes me smile, anyway. It’s as though those people simply forgot that the Pies didn’t fall into those situations by accident – they were always competitive and always gave themselves a chance to win it.

And so it is in 2023, as Collingwood continues to play at breakneck speed, move the ball through the corridor whenever the opportunity presents, and trust one another to win the footy.

Richmond came at them in the third quarter, largely on the back of a well-timed substitution, but the Pies rallied to kick a few on the trot, before running out 14-point winners.

The scoreline flattered Richmond just a tad, with the Pies’ inaccuracy early in the game keeping the door open, but with a plethora of options both in the middle and up forward, as well as a very solid defensive performance, it was Collingwood moving to the top of the ladder (for now) and handing the Tigers their first loss of the season.

Let’s jump into The Mongrel’s Talking Points.



I want to start off with a bloke who didn’t even make the list of the best players on the AFL website, but sure as hell stood out to me.

Nathan Murphy was rarely beaten in this game. Playing as the third tall defender, his work to combine with Darcy Moore and Billy Frampton gave the Pies a huge lift inside defensive 50. Sure, he dislodged his flimsy headband a number of times, but I am putting it out there – I think it might give him some sort of powers… kind of like when Homer Simpson slept in an oxygen tent (shower curtain) to give him some “special” powers of his own.

There was a touch of Bruce Doull about Murphy in this one. Not flashy, not gonna grab the umpire’s votes, but he got the job done time and time again.

We won’t be impressed with his numbers – ten touches, one mark, and four intercepts, but his ability to come over the top and kill the contest gave his small defenders the opportunity to run onto the footy and clear the danger zone.

He had 14 one-percenters in this game, owning the air and making Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt have to work for their kicks. And the third tall forward, Samson Ryan, was subbed out to start the second half, such were the efforts of Murphy to curtail him.



There is nothing easy about playing on Tom Lynch – the bloke is a brute, knows how to use his body, and plays an intelligent brand of footy most of the time.

That said, Billy Frampton made the job looks pretty easy in this game. Using every weapon at his disposal, Frampton held Lynch to just seven touches for the game, including no touches in the first quarter, at all. Lynch finished with one goal, but did miss two others that were very gettable for him, and I suppose you could use that fact to argue that Frampton did allow Lynch a little too much room at times, but if you watch the entire game, the bodywork, the anticipation, and the composure from Frampton were all brilliant.

He got caught napping a couple of times toward the end of the game, but on the whole, he provided a solid replacement for the injured Jeremy Howe and will now be assessed on his merits when it comes to selection. He is no longer that bloke the Pies got from the Crows – not at all. He is looking every bit the quality defender.



Any way you slice it, kicking one goal in a half of footy is just not good enough and that’s where Richmond found themselves against the Pies.

Sure, Collingwood only had three, themselves, but they had 3.10 and the game should have rightfully been over. But for their own inaccuracy, this could have been classified as a domination. It was 13 shots at goal to four as the repeat entries inside fifty and the relentless run from half-back through the middle meant that the Tigers were pinned into their defensive zone far more often than they would have liked. Their ball movement was stagnant – a very kick-mark style of play not conducive to scoring in wet weather, and with the key forwards kept well in check, the Richmond tactic of going long and high just wasn’t working, and the Tigers were content to allow them to try.



Two things, I reckon.

Trust and belief.

This team relies on each other winning the footy, and in doing so, they are prepared to take risks and play with confidence. They trust one another to win their respective contests and make space further afield to capitalise on their good work.

Just watch Beau McCreery for confirmation of this. Does he stop and go back when he wins the footy? Or does he take the game on and back himself t beat his opponent?

He doesn’t always win that contest but there is an expectation amongst his teammates that he will at the very least, take the game on, so the Pies are set up beautifully in front of the ball for him to win, and structured up behind the footy in case he gets beaten.

This is a team choc-full of confidence in each other and even when the forwards are misfiring, as they did early in the game, the continued onslaught means that eventually, the dam wall will break and the Pies’ goals will start to flow.



He was quiet last week, but Jordan de Goey was back to his rampaging best in all facets of the game this week… except in front of goals.

With 35 touches and nine clearances to his name, de Goey was a handful for the Tiger midfield, winning the ball at the coalface and daring them to try to stop him. He finished the game with no goals, but had three behinds to his name, which had he kicked them truly would have made this one of his best ever outings.

Earlier this season, I wrote about how good de Goey could be. Over the last few years, we’ve seen glimpses, but we’re yet to see peak JDG. We might be on the way. Sure, he didn’t hit the scoreboard, but he picked up two direct goal assists and probably should have ended up with at least two snags to go with them.

After three weeks, he is averaging 24 touches and 1.3 goals per game. I genuinely believe he could be the next man t chalk up a season averaging 20+ disposals and 2+ goals per game. It has not been done in over a decade, but the Collingwood start has every chance to add his name to the 20 and 2 club this season.



If it is, they might want to hope they don’t all follow suit and hack at the footy like the former Giant does.

Taranto is getting the hard work done – getting hands on the footy, with 35 others on the park all having the same goal, is no easy task, but he has been able to find the footy like he has it tied to his finger. He finished with 29 touches, but was once again let down by his poor disposal efficiency, travelling at just on 55% for the game.

This is starting to become a concern.

He is a workhorse in the middle and his nine clearances prove that, but from where I sit, I’d like to see him hit more targets and become the weapon his was being mooted as back in his 2019 Best and Fairest year at GWS.

Perhaps he has taken on too much responsibility in the midfield, too quickly? Without Hopper in the mix, and with Prestia having an average outing, the Tigers were forced to rely on Trent Cotchin to move back into the middle to support Taranto. The former captain worked very hard, but his days of being a consistent ball-winner are now behind him and he often finds himself under pressure as soon as he collects the footy – much like everyone else on his team in this game, actually.

The Tigers bolstered their lineup with Taranto and Hopper this season, but it is becoming apparent that they need both of them to operate in tandem to make things work.



I’d like to see him brought straight back into the team, but the work of Bobby Hill may give Craig McRae reason to think he’s got this small forward caper down pat.

Ginnivan and Hill play the game quite differently. Hill is your traditional kid who watched some of the great small forwards of the previous generation and has incorporated what he has seen into his own game.

Ginnivan is more an opportunist, taking the chances the opposition gives him and creating a few for himself along the way. Maybe the question should be – can they both play in the same forward line?

I don’t see why they couldn’t unless we’re going to start classifying Jamie Elliott as a small forward at some stage – to me, he is more of a marking option.

A Hill/Ginnivan combination could very well add to an already potent Collingwood forward mix, but we’ll have to see how well they work together before we start dancing in the street, thinking about what could be.



A couple of years back, I loved the wing setup of the Tigers. With Kamdyn McIntosh on one side and Marlion Pickett on the other, it seemed as though the Tigers had the best one-two punch in the game when it came to outside runners that could still mix it up on the physical side.

I’m not sure that’s the case, anymore.

The combination of Steele Sidebottom and Josh Daicos showed the Richmond pair a clean set of heels, as they outran and outworked them when the game was there to be won.

Sidebottom, in particular, was very good in the first quarter, finding the footy as if he owned it,. His nine touches and 250+ metres gained gave the Pies a heap of bite on the outside, and enabled them to have a crack at a number of scoring chances… which they often cocked up, but that’s not the point.

Pickett and McIntosh were no slouches, but after years of owning a wing position each, they are starting to look a little stale. They had six score involvements between them. Their opposite numbers had 13. That’s the difference.

The Collingwood wingmen had impact and were great with the footy, opening the game up with their disposal. The Tiger runners were just… there, doing not a hell of a lot with the footy.



Is it too early to say he’ll vault into Brownlow favouritism pretty soon?

I know of someone who was thrilled to get him at great odds before the season commenced. And he is ecstatic at the moment. Probably helps that he is a Collingwood supporter, I suppose.

It’s interesting to watch Daicos, in just his second year, playing the role of General in the Magpie defence, pointing out where his teammates should set up, where they should run, and how the defence should operate. How many second-year players have you seen do that?

The inevitable move to the midfield is on hold for the minute, as Craig McRae continues to permit his young star to refine his game as a half-back, and though he torched Lachie Jones (a strange option for a tagger) last week, we are yet to see him get the better of an established defensive player. Once he starts doing that on a consistent basis, I’ll be all in.

Hell, I’m as close to being all in as I can be right now, anyway.

As an outsider, what I see is that a coach would be foolish to allow him to run his own race against your team. He is too good to be allowed to run around without someone taking responsibility for him. I know Damien Hardwick does not like using tags – maybe it’s time he started warming to the idea?

A half-back flanker winning the Brownlow?

It could happen…



It helped having fresh legs, I’m sure, but the way Noah Cumberland was able to slice through the Collingwood defence and aid the Tigers as they made their mini-run should all but see him start on the park next week against the Lions.

A tough one-on-one matchup, Cumberland has the aerial ability as well as great recovery and ground-level skills. He is able to dance around tackles easily, as displayed as he gave the Tigers a glimmer of hope that all would be okay in the third quarter.

And they were okay… for a while. Richmond piled on three goals to reduce the margin to just over a goal. And then Collingwood responded with three of their own to re-establish their break.

However, had it not been for the heroics of Noh Cumberland, we may have seen the Pies able to run away with the game.



He’s certainly the most improved player at Richmond, and I reckon there is a bunch of other guys in yellow and black that could really learn a bit from the way he goes about it.

Baker is probably my favourite Tiger to watch – he is the one bloke that refuses – flat out refuses – to go into his shell and accept that the game is lost. Irrespective of the score, he is working just as hard at the conclusion of the game as he is at the start, and you have to respect that.

He finished with 32 touches and 12 intercepts in this one, as he worked tirelessly to aid his team exit defensive fifty.

How much do you reckon Hardwick would pay to have three or four more like Liam Baker?



Another 30 touches and five clearances for Tm Mitchell. The guy just knows how to play footy – great pickup by the Pies.

A pretty solid game on paper from Toby Nankervis, with a +15 win in hit outs over Darcy Cameron. What a shame nothing the Big Nank did actually hurt the Pies, at all, huh? The 11-7 centre clearance numbers in Collingwood’s favour is probably more indicative of the way the ruck battle played out than the hit out numbers. Even after Cameron went down, Nank just couldn’t seize control.

It will be interesting to see how the Pies combat the injury to DC. He has been huge this last 12 months. He’ll also lose the Mongrel Ruck Championship belt as a result, which I’m sure he’d be devastated about…

The Tigers will be pleased with the game of Jack Ross. They’ve been waiting for him for a while, now. Maybe this season is the year he cements a spot in their best lineup.

Jack Crisp… I suppose the fact he is in this section indicates just how underrated he is, overall. Two Copeland trophies down – who knows how many more to go. His run through the middle was a huge weapon for the Pies.

Speaking of weapons, how the hell does Scott Pendlebury continue to do what he does at such a high level? His dance through traffic to goal at one stage… brilliant. No other way to put it. Perhaps the classiest player the league has seen since Robbie Flower.



I am always worried about Will Hoskin-Elliott – I am not sure he is in the Pies’ best side, but he keeps bobbing up in that team, week after week. Not sure how long he remains there with numbers like five touches.

I’d like to see Maurice Rioli Jr give the first option sometimes. As soon as he gets the footy, he starts going into his move immediately and teams are starting to wake up to it. A quick handball to someone in a better position creates just as much as a couple of sidesteps, sometimes.

I love Jack Graham – he is a bull. He is also slow, and was shown up on a couple of occasions in this game.



The Pies now focus on the Brisbane Lions, who look very shaky at the moment. A win against them would send the Lions to 1-4 and damage their finals chances.

The Tigers have to regroup against a resurgent Bulldogs, who will be no pushover, with their defence looking surprisingly solid on Thursday against the Lions.


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