After two weeks that may have caused a little bit of concern for supporters, the Pies bounced back with an eight-point win over the reigning premiers in front of 78,000 at the MCG.
Geelong jumped out to a fast start and many would have questioned the Pies’ ability to hold it all together, as Darcy Moore went off with what looked to be a hamstring strain. The club is saying tightness… which a hamstring usually is right before you strain it.
After a lacklustre term in regard to their own pressure, the Pies ramped it up after quarter time and got the game back on their terms. Josh Daicos must have forgotten to shower, as nobody bothered to go near him for most of the game. He had 29 touches through the first three quarters.
And then someone lit a match under Patrick Dangerfield and Jeremy Cameron, and suddenly, it was game-on again.
Cameron kicked 2.3 in the last quarter, and had one not make the distance, as well. He really could have dragged the Cats over the top of the Pies in this one, but even with two helping hands from a couple of boundary umpires, he was unable to get the job done.
In the end, it was the Pies’ powerful rebound from half-back and their pressure inside 50 that proved too much for the Cats, all but securing Collingwood top spot, and leaving the Geelong premiership defence in tatters.
Let’s jump into The Mongrel’s Good, Bad, and Ugly of the return to form of the Magpies.
OWNING A WING
On Friday morning, I put the finishing touches to our most recent update of the Wingman of the Year Award. I’m glad I did it.
As far as I am concerned, we have our winner – his name is Josh Daicos. You may have heard of him – his brother goes okay, and his dad could play a bit, as well. However, there are those who swear black and blue that Errol Gulden should be winning.
Given it’s my system, I am evidently not amongst them.
It was almost as though Daicos did me a solid with this performance, giving experienced (Isaac Smith) and inexperienced (well… no one, because Mitch Duncan was the other main wingman) a lesson in how to best play to your strengths and provide an asset for your team.
Daicos refused to be drawn to the contest all game, remaining out wide for the inevitable Collingwood release. He did the hard yards early in the contest, and with the Cats pressing, found himself deep in defence on occasion, but as the Pies gained the ascendancy, he was able to remain wide of the corridor and offer the Magpies a release valve whenever they needed it.
He had a career-high 38 touches, as if to remind both Collingwood fans and neutrals alike that there is another Daicos that plays in black and white, and he is all kinds of classy, as well. He picked up 29 uncontested disposals and continued to make intelligent and effective decisions with the footy in hand, often the man entrusted with the inboard kick to open the game up. He may have done a little bit of stat-padding in the final couple of minutes as the Pies iced the clock, but overall, this was his game. Right from the start, he was clean with the footy, looked dangerous, and appeared in control.
The Collingwood army were left pretty disappointed after last week’s debacle against the Hawks. With Nick Daicos suffering a fracture in his leg, I am sure there were many people lining up to use their “No Daicos, no Collingwood” line.
But there was a Daicos, and he was magnificent in this game. It was almost like he was saying “All is well, little brother… I’ve got this one.”
And that he did.
The stats may say something a little different, but I walked away from this one thinking the Geelong midfield got the better of the Pies over the course of the game.
To me, it seemed as though the Pies really lacked a burst player from stoppages. They could get their hands on it, but with Jordan de Goey copping a couple of knocks, he looked a little slower and didn’t really demonstrate that power to charge out of the middle. Going the other way, Patrick Dangerfield did, and Tom Atkins was doing a lot of heavy lifting in the packs.
Over the course of the game, the Magpies probably shared the load a little better, with Taylor Adams, Tom Mitchell, and Scott Pendlebury getting their hands on it a bit more, but what I was wanting to see was the Collingwood mids execute a couple of clearances out the front of the centre. They didn’t, often going sideways first, which allows the opposition half-backs and fat side wingman to fold back and clog up attacking fifty.
And that’s where the next bunch comes into it.
THE MAGPIE HALF-BACKS
With the Pies struggling to break away from the centre cleanly, it fell to the half-back line to generate their power running, and these blokes gave Collingwood the type of lift they needed.
Isaac Quaynor, John Noble, Brayden Maynard, even Oleg Markov in the first half – they were able to kickstart the Collingwood offence by playing an attacking brand of defence.
They’re an interesting bunch, this Collingwood defence. They will give you a chance to beat them if you’re good enough – they take the risk and live with the results. They will run off their man, dart up through the guts and attempt to get the ball out the back to whoever is making space, all the while knowing that one mistake could see the ball rebound over their heads to their opponents waiting out the back.
A good team, or a lucky team can make them pay.
As lucky as Geelong got, they weren’t that good, and the Magpie gamble paid off handsomely, once again.
THE JC SHOW
Jeremy Cameron threatened to tear this game a new butthole in the last quarter.
With Patrick Dangerfield bursting out of the middle like his arse was on fire, it was as though someone lit a fire under Cameron, as well. He marked everything, looked dangerous when the ball hit the deck, and basically created chaos with his movement both with and without the footy.
I felt for Billy Frampton, who was asked to do a job that was probably more suited to one of the best key defenders in the game…
… but Darcy Moore was nursing a hamstring injury on the bench, so it was either Nathan Murphy, who was busy cleaning up the mess others left behind, or Frampton left to attempt to keep Cameron quiet.
If that was keeping him quiet, I’d hate to see what it’s like when he’s noisy!
In truth, Cameron should have done a lot more damage in the last quarter. He kicked two goals, but was peppering the goals en route to finishing with seven for the game. When he gets up and about, he is like a perpetual motion machine, moving, moving, moving and forcing you to try to stop him.
The Pies trusted Frampton, who did his best, pushing Cameron out as far as he could away from goal, but the Geelong forward’s ability to recover and stay involved really troubled him.
And it could have really troubled the Magpies, overall.
But for wayward kicking from Cameron, we may have had a different result to this one.
THE MOST ELECTRIFYING MAN IN THE AFL
Okay, so he is no Rock, but every time Bobby Hill touched the footy in this game, good things happened.
When it was announced he had chosen Collingwood as his preferred destination club, I did wonder how he would fit in the team that had unearthed Jack Ginnivan the year before. After all, Ginni was a 40-goal forward and looked like the player that would be the number-one option for the Pies this season.
Then Bobby Hill happened.
Usually, Hill is not a high-possession man. He has had 12 games this season where he has had ten or fewer disposals in a game, but with him, it is all about impact with those touches, and when Hill does get the footy, he makes things happen fr the Magpies.
He had it 16 times in this game, working further up the ground than I am used to seeing him. And whilst he finished with one goal to his name, Hill added two direct goal assists as part of his eight score involvements for the game.
The one goal he did kick, reading the ball off a contest at half-forward and running inside 50 without missing a step, was just about the best example of being front and centre you’ll find. There was a real sense of Luke Breust about the way he found himself in exactly the right position at exactly the right time.
His 289 metres gained was his highest return since Round Five, and with Ginnivan in the team, perhaps a more mobile version of Hill is the best version of him?
For the record, Ginnivan was very serviceable in this game after coming on for Moore. I liked what I saw and thought he created a lot of opportunities. I’d persist with both of them at this stage.
COMPENSATING FOR A LOSS
When you lose a player like Nick Daicos, it’s natural to feel you’ve been hard done by.
When you lose Darcy Moore the very next week, you may start to think the stars are just not aligning.
Losers think that way. Don’t be a loser.
It was obvious Collingwood, as a unit, did not think that way in this game. With their young star absent, and their captain on the pine nursing an injury, Collingwood simply adapted, played their game, and refused to be bent by circumstance. Hell, being broken by those circumstances was not even in consideration.
Nathan Murphy stood tall in defence, as did Brayden Maynard. Jack Crisp folded back, and the combination of Isaac Quaynor and John Noble waxed to keep Brad Close and Gryan Miers under control.
In the end, it was Jezza Cameron against the Pies, and as I learnt from WWE manager, Slick, back in the late eighties… six mens will always beats one mens…
And yes, English was his first language.
WHO IS BRANDAN PARFITT?
I’ve been asking this for a while now. Not out loud… just part of my internal monologue.
A couple of years back, I thought he was going to be the in-and-under, hard-nosed player the Cats needed in the middle once Selwood, Guthrie, Duncan, and Danger all departed. And now, I don’t think he is in their best 22 by a fair way.
He just looks like a square peg attempting to fit in a round hole, and I wonder whether a fresh start would benefit both him and the Cats.
Right now, it seems that Parfitt does his best work without the footy – he still tackles well and is as strong as a baby bull, but when it comes to finding the footy and hurting the opposition… you could almost leave him alone and not bother manning up on him, as I am not sure that is in his repertoire at the moment.
The Cats were so high on this bloke at one point, but given what we’re seeing from him in 2023 – career-low numbers across many stat categories – I am really not sure who he is and what he can provide this team.
To me, he is one of the blokes who is happy to be a premiership player… and should consider himself pretty lucky to have been afforded that opportunity.
Also, I reckon he looks a bit like Mer-Man, from Masters of the Universe. I don;t know what his footy credentials are, but given his domain is underwater, maybe he needs a bit of rain to play well?
I am a big fan of the best players being available at the most important time of the year, and we’re heading into that period right now.
So, to see Darcy Moore pull up short and clutch at his hamstring… even as a neutral supporter, it was not what I wanted to see, at all. Particularly so, given Collingwood are already without Nick Daicos for the remainder of the home and away season.
My hope is that Moore goes in for scans, there is only minimal damage, and he is right to go again sooner rather than later. That said, the realist in me thinks we now won’t see him until the finals.
Selfishly, Moore was sitting second in our Defensive Player of the Year Award prior to this round. He likely won’t be scoring at all in that race, so we can basically put a line through him… which just makes me a bit sadder. I was hoping for the grandstand finish.
There have been times this season when Esava Ratugolea has looked like an excellent defender. However, the more I watch him, the more I come to understand he can only look that way if the opposition allow him to.
If you give Sav a clean run at the ball in flight, the big fella makes a bee-line for it, crashes into whoever is unlucky enough to be in his path, and either takes an intercept mark, or kills the contest. In terms of footballers, he is what is known as a simple player – he knows his job and will do it the only way he knows how.
There is really no Plan B for him, because he is not versatile enough to concoct one.
What we saw in this game was a cohesive effort from the Collingwood forwards to disallow Sav a clean run at the footy, and as soon as that was taken from his repertoire, it became obvious that he was going to be stuck in no-man’s-land far too often, unable to impact the contest and not possessing the ground skills to make his presence worthwhile with the ball on the deck.
So, what does Brad Scott do with him when other teams work him out?
Geelong doesn’t exactly have a dominant ruck. That’s like saying Hawthorn doesn’t exactly have nice colours. With Rhys Stanley having a break-even game, was there a way of throwing Sav onto the ball for ten minutes a quarter to get him into the game? His bulk and… errr, more bulk could have given Geelong a bit more grunt around the ground and freed him up as a marking target for players coming out of defence.
Of course, when he did have the opportunity to be a marking target, 35 metres out from goal in the last quarter, he dropped his head when he heard footsteps and cost his team a goal.
So maybe keeping him where he was positioned was the right call, after all.
Seven of Sav’s eight touches for the game were turnovers (yet he still ran at 50% efficiency according to the Champion Data guys… your model is broken). You just cannot carry a bloke like that in your back half and expect it to all be okay. The opposition want him to get the footy because he can’t do anything with it!
Ratugolea is out of contract after this season and given what we saw in this game, he is a definite buyer-beware case. I would not be forking out big money for a bloke with so little in the way of footy smarts and so prone to dumb errors. But hey, if your club does, it’s not the end of the world… just the end of your enjoyment of watching them play.
UMPIRES WEARING CATS JUMPERS
Seven goals to Jeremy Cameron is a great effort, irrespective of how they came. I mean, I’ve never kicked seven in a game. I’ve kicked six… back in Under 15s, but never seven!
However, had the umpires been as generous to me as they were to Jeremy Cameron in this game, maybe I could have. Maybe you could have, too?
Boundary umpires don’t usually have a big say in proceedings, but after we saw Cameron not paid a mark he clearly took in the second quarter, it was as though the boundary umps decided to do something about that and even things up a bit. It was an over-correction.
The first gift Cameron received was being paid a mark on a ball that was clearly out of bounds. Brayden Maynard almost gave birth, he was so upset at the mark being paid, and the eye test indicated he was well within his rights to be pissed. The boundary ump found himself in an awkward position to make a good call, with the ball going over his head to a contest. He guessed at the result, opting not to call it out on the full, which it was, and left it to the field umpire to pay the mark, which he did.
Cameron converted the boundary line goal with a lovely banana goal against the flow that kind of halted the Collingwood momentum.
But wait… there’s more!
Fast forward to the last quarter and Brad Close taking a mark on the boundary. Jeremy Cameron did his customary circle around the back of Close, who instinctively dished to the left-footer… a metre or so out of bounds… who then ran into the field of play and slotted a goal round the corner.
The crowd was angry and they had every right to be. It was a clear play-on situation where Cameron was out of bounds when he received the ball and the bush league boundary umpire was either sitting around with his thumb up his arse, or had no idea of the rules (or both!) because he simply allowed it to play out in front of him.
That’s 12 points that were basically donated to Geelong and Cameron by the inexcusable ineptitude of boundary umpires within a half of footy.
I am sure that we all sit back and say “well, lucky that it didn’t impact the result”, right?
Wrong. It’s more than that.
This race for finals is as tight as I can remember it. Sure, the Pies win and go on to finish in the top two (if not at THE top), but there are teams fighting for the seventh and eighth spots on the ladder that need every bit of percentage to go their way. If Geelong make it into the eight by a small amount of percentage, it is stupidity and complete cluelessness from these boundary umpires that could make all the difference.
You use the replay for the ball being touched. You use it when it hits the post. But when someone kicks a goal after being out of bounds, no one sees fit to say anything? For god’s sake, the bundary umpire was staring straight at the players as they played on out of bounds – this was not a line ball; it was an obvious mistake and should have been called out of play.
I actually hope the Cats don’t sneak into the eight on percentage, because if you want to see “ugly” then dealing with the fans of the poor bloody team that finishes ninth on percentage will be about as ugly as it gets. Get your act together, AFL, and cut this embarrassing garbage out. It is damn embarrassing.
Mushrooms! Did you hear that? Brian Taylor thinks Collingwood players are like mushrooms?
Does Craig McRae keep them in the dark and feed them bullshit?
Do they go well in a risotto? Mrs Mongrel made a ripper this afternoon and I am pretty sure there wasn’t any McCreery or Maynard in it.
Or are they just fungi(s)?
A decent outing for Ollie Henry against his old team, and I was happy to hear the Collingwood crowd booing him. I know there has been a lot of controversy about booing this season, as some people see themselves as above it. I think there is a place for it when there are circumstances like this, and it obviously didn’t impact Henry’s game.
What are the rules with centre bounce recalls? They seem pretty arbitrary. I have seen some bounces recalled despite landing in the larger circle, where they’re supposed to be deemed contestable, yet in this one, the centre bounce that led to the opening goal of the second half (McStay), was clearly an advantage for the Pies and allowed to continue. Another bush league decision.
And the non-paid mark to Jeremy Cameron in the second quarter was a shocker from the field umpire. An absolute howler. That said, the two gifts Cameron got more than make up for the one he was robbed of.
I noticed Gar Rohan was having his groin/adductor worked on by a make physio. Smart thinking by the Cats. He has history…
A lot of the attention will go to Josh Daicos in this one, and rightly so, but Pat Lipinski occupied the other wing for decent durations of this one and did a wonderful job for the Pies. He worked really hard at both ends of the ground and when called to get in and contest the footy at stoppages, he did that, as well, finishing with five clearances.
Tough night at the office for Tom Stewart, who got caught out of position multiple times as he tried to be everything to everyone in defence and often got caught between his own assignment and helping a teammate.
Finally, the return to form of Brody Mihocek made me smile. I am not sure there is a more honest forward in the game than this bloke. Throws himself into everything, finds ways to contribute, and finishing with five goals for the game is an apt reward for someone who does so much of the tough stuff, week in and week out.
Next week, the Pies have a cracker on Friday night against the Lions. For some reason, it’s at Marvel, where the Lions play pretty well. I’d like the Pies more at the ‘G, but what can you do?
As for the Cats, they lick their wounds and now need to beat the Saints at Marvel next week, and the Dogs in Round 24. They also have to rely on other results going their way. They are now up against it and unless we see a bit of a miracle, you get the feeling their era is fast coming to a conclusion.
As always, thanks so much to those who support this work. As we enter finals, I expect people to start getting pissed at me as I will be covering ALL games, meaning that most reviews will be locked for members – for you. That’s the benefit of being a mongrel member, I suppose… you don’t get mad at me, unnecessarily. Cheers for that. 🙂
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