Collingwood v West Coast – The Mongrel Review


The old bookend battle is a weird part of the fixture. Everyone expects the top team to win and the bottom team to put in a brave but ultimately futile showing. Some pundits actually commented that the Pies should rest up some of their stars to give their depth players a chance to shine in what could very well be a squad headed deep into September, yet Collingwood came to Perth with probably the best 22 that their healthy list has, and while the winner won’t surprise anyone, there were some moments that will give West Coast fans something to hang their hat on.


Ins and Outs

Collingwood had to replace two quality players in Steel Sidebottom and Jamie Elliott. The former out with an MCL injury that could see him sidelined for some time, while the latter’s shoulder injury also ruled him out.

Billy Frampton got a call-up, while Harvey Harrison made his debut

West Coast added to their already substantial injury list when Luke Edwards entered concussion protocols after a head knock, and brought in Callum Jameison to play second ruck.


Eight straight for the Pies

While there are positives for the Eagles, the first half wasn’t one of them. The game was won before the Auskickers even went down to lace up their boots.

A big reason for this was West Coast seemed to be taking inspiration from the kids, and just looked happy to be out there to celebrate Dom Sheed’s 150th. Not since I lived in a uni sharehouse with dodgy plumbing have I seen such a lack of pressure. West Coast were the equivalent of a drippy showerhead for practically the entire first half, while Collingwood were running hard to contests and even harder to find open space.

At some stages, it seemed like Collingwood had extra players on the field, such was their desire to gut run down the wing to create an option for a teammate.


Rookie Watch

Reuben Ginbey showed a lot in this game, sticking five tackles and collecting 13 possessions. It’s the tackles that really stood out, as he was able to anticipate where the ball would be and hit that player hard, despite his age (though he’s hardly a lightweight).

He seems to like a strong tackle, accelerating into it with the sort of glee that you normally only see in country footy with no video review. He’s got a way to go, but for an eighteen-year-old kid, he won’t die wondering.

Noah Long was handy, but struggled with the quality of delivery and the voracious nature of the Collingwood defence. He did manage to kick his career-first goal in this match, so that will be a highlight for the squad to rally around, and it did seem to be the moment where it could inspire the team as they closed in on Collingwood in the 3rd quarter, but instead it looked like the Eagles considered their job done and did not kick another goal for the match after that.

Collingwood debutant Harvey Harrison also opened his account, with his 1st goal halfway through the second quarter. With that goal coming from just eight touches and supplemented by four tackles, it’s about as good as you’d expect from the lad, especially with the role he’d be required to play and the talent around him. He’s going to learn a lot if they keep him in the side, even if it’s just for a little while.


Mihocek Magic

Personally, I love the way Brody Mihocek plays. His work off the ball to find an open leading lane is underappreciated unless you’re at the ground to see it. It reminds me of Matthew Richardson in his double- and triple-leads, but unlike Richo, Mihocek’s teammates actually honour those leads and kick the ball into the spaces he’s asking them to.

His contested marking is also excellent, with five o his eleven marks coming under pressure, and lest you think he was playing selfish, he also had eleven score involvements to his name.

The All-Australian squad is always controversial (you just need to read the comments on the rolling AA articles that the Mongrel puts out every week to understand that), but while there are plenty of quality forwards in the league, I would not be shocked to see Mihocek’s name in the squad.


Dom Sheed

Would Dom Sheed be lining up this week after his ankle injury against Essendon if the Eagles hadn’t had their enormous injury list? It’s hard to know, yet I can understand Simpson putting him down to play his 150th against the side that he sunk in the 2018 Grand Final. You could argue that with that single kick, he became a symbol of Collingwood’s struggles in September, though instead of worrying the Pies, it seemed to inspire them more than anything.

He had a blinder for his team though, and lifted the midfield around him in a way that the Eagles haven’t done for much of the season. His leadership in the middle can’t be denied, so even if he wasn’t 100%, I can see why he’s in the squad.

He wasn’t just there to play on-field General though, his ‘follow me’ leadership style earned him a whopping 43 touches with 10 clearances and nine marks as he played an integral role in getting the Eagles within sniffing distance in the third quarter. He was also one of the best kicks inside 50 for the team, with half of the scoring shots coming from his delivery.



We can argue all day about whether DeGoey’s hit on Hewett should be a penalty or not, but by the standards of the rules regarding head contact, you’d have to think it will be. He went past the ball and collected his head with his shoulder, and rightly or wrongly, the fact Hewett will enter concussion protocols will also weigh against him.

Apart from that though, DeGoey has had a great season, adding strong midfield minutes to his time up forward. While he had a few deft touches, this wasn’t one of his best games, though it could be argued that he played more of a supporting role in the structure this week, and that the risky, innovative way he can play wasn’t really needed against West Coast.

Collingwood fans will be keen to get him back quickly, but I’d be surprised if it was before round 16.


Midfield battle

This may sound weird, but for my money, West Coast won the midfield battle.

Sheed, Kelly and Yeo combined for an incredible 26 clearances, compared to Pendlebury, Mitchell and Adams, who managed 12 between them.

Yet, it was the second and third links in the chain that let West Coast down, as well as the depth players coming in to spell their starters. When any of the three were out of the middle, the whole structure suffered.

Conversely, Collingwood was able to rotate in a greater number of players to give them midfield minutes, while keeping their stars moving around and breaking tags when necessary.

While it was great to see such output from Sheed, Kelly and Yeo, they desperately need support that won’t be coming any time soon, or at least until they can be certain that players like Ginbey can handle the physical side of footy.


Ruck contest

Collingwood went with Darcy Cameron as their primary ruck, with big Cox swinging around to give him a break, while the Eagles had Bailey Williams as their number one big man, and Callum Jameison backing him up.

Bailey Williams held up well against Cameron. They had a similar number of ruck contests, with similar hit outs to advantage, clearances and time on ground, but while Williams did manage to get far more tackles (6-1) Cameron was much more able to generate play off his own boot while Williams played the beanpole distributor style of ruckman. Cameron was able to get into space regularly, becoming an option in a possession chain further down the line where he frequently out-ran his direct opponent. He was also a pretty reliable kick when looking for a teammate, aided no doubt by the fact that the likes of Pendelbury, Naicos, Jaicos and DeGoey would regularly have burned off their opponent and be running into open grass.

The secondary ruck situation doesn’t flatter West Coast either, as Cox dominated his time in the ruck, managing to win the hit out 21 times out of the 29 ruck contests he attended. Jamieson only managed two taps from 32 contests in a day that he’ll no doubt learn a lot from, and at 22, he has the time to do that.


The stats that matter

West Coast actually won a lot of the stat categories, including disposals, clearances, contested possessions and total marks. But their hard work up the ground was often wasted with an inside 50 delivery that played right into Collingwood’s hands, literally. So many times Eagles forwards would run into each other’s open spaces, allowing a single defender to influence the marking contest while the other stayed down to crumb, resulting in a rebound play. Collingwood had no such trouble, with their marks inside 50 stat trouncing the Eagles 14-5.

Collingwood also had more tackles, but for me the key stat was the one percenters. Collingwood won that 50-29, mostly from the willingness to run hard to put a body on an opponent chasing their teammate. I’ve always been a big fan of the shepherd as a key stat, as it shows a player’s commitment to the team, while giving the playmaker extra time to select the best option. In that way, Darcy Moore led by example with a supreme willingness to put his body in the way of opponents and give his teammates time to spend the ball wisely, but Murphy and Frampton were likewise keen to play the role.

Rhett Bazzo led the stat for the Eagles, and looked like one of the most determined players on the ground during the time West Coast were surging in the second half.


The butcher’s bill

Much has been written about West Coast’s injury list, with best 22 players Naitanui, Cripps, Darling, McGovern, Ryan, Shuey, Petrevski-Seton and thereabouts player Culley all out of the side for the foreseeable future, and this game won’t help the situation.

Tom Barrass’ late out due to a quad issue was an ominous sign, and with Hurn going down with a hamstring, West with a knee and Hewett likely entering concussion protocols, the bye will provide a much-needed week of respite for the players. It’s possible that Luke Shuey and Sam Petrevski-Seton may return for the Adelaide game, but it would likely make more sense to play it a little cautious with them and give them an extra couple of weeks to get their bodies ready for the trip to Sydney in rd 15.

Collingwood also added to their recent run of injuries, with Will Hoskin-Elliott and Beau McCreery also finishing the game on the bench with injuries, but Lipinski and McStay look to be on the road to return shortly. Though I’d be surprised if they came back before the bye.

Both sides will see the injuries as a problem to their season goals. For West Coast, it’s more like throwing petrol on an already roaring fire of broken-down players, while Collingwood may feel it’s a slow erosion of their best 22 that could cost them dearly in September if not managed well. Hopefully, Sidebottom’s knee will be a minor problem and we’ll see him again this season.


Next up

Both teams have a bye in round 14, so they can hit their next match with a bit of extra effort, knowing they have an additional week to recover.

West Coast will head to Adelaide to take on the Crows, smarting after their loss to Gold Coast. I really want a reason to tip West Coast, but Adelaide at home are a tough match for anyone. I think their only chance will be to get away to a fast start and hope the weather helps them out.

But I don’t think it will.

Adelaide by 54.

Collingwood will look to extend their streak while testing their mettle against the Demons in the King’s Birthday match at the G. The problem with streaks is that they take their toll on players, and Collingwood have been putting some miles into the bodies of their playmakers. As the saying goes, ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’, and the Pies are the class of the comp at the moment, and a scalp that every team is gunning for.

Melbourne have their own injury concerns, but with DeGoey likely to miss at least this match and Sidebottom already out, I think there may be something of an upset here.

While Melbourne’s form hasn’t been up to Collingwood’s standards, I’m tipping the underdog here with the Dees getting up in the name of His Royal Highness. A loss now will do the pies no harm though, and may even have them even more motivated in the second half of the season.

Dees by 4.



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