The Magpies entered hostile territory to take on the Crows, and they came prepared. With clean hands, cool heads and a high-pressure attack on the ball, the Pies ran out winners by 48 points.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad, and ugly.
The stoppage work of the Magpies
So the Crouch brothers are missing, and a lot of the load rested on the shoulders of Rory Sloane at stoppages for the Crows. So what did Collingwood do? They set up their stoppage players to nullify the soon-to-be free agent, and that’s just what they did - they brought him to a halt.
Steele Sidebottom had his way, gathering 43 disposals, whilst restricting Sloane to 16 disposals overall. He stood one side of Sloane whilst getting help from players like James Aish around the ground. Their combination, almost pinning Sloane between them, made Sloane a non-factor, and hurt the Crows' ability to get first hands on the ball.
There were more than a few Magpie supporters who rolled their eyes when their team drafted the kid with the heart defect… as though the club wouldn’t have done their due diligence and made sure he was right to play.
Well, if they had any doubts, Stephenson’s five goal performance laid them to rest. In only his fourth game, the youngster showed Pies fans a glimpse of what’s in store. He was clean, read the ball off the pack well, and lead to the right spots all night.
His speed in the second quarter, after Mason Cox forced the ball to ground against Daniel Talia – a contest Talia should’ve won – was amazing. He hit the ball running and took off, got the ball to De Goey, who found Josh Thomas for a goal.
I didn’t think Sam Jacobs was bad, but Brodie Grundy was excellent. He runs to the right spots, knows when to take the ball out of the ruck, and has the best second efforts for a ruckman outside of a West Coast Eagles jumper.
Grundy took only one mark, but had a career-high 33 disposals, which made him an asset once the ball hit the ground. As the resurgence of the ruckman continues, Grundy’s continued good form has thrust him to the forefront. There are a few contenders for the title, but Grundy may be in the process of establishing himself as the best ruckman in the league.
And then there was his running goal… wow.
He has been as good as advertised this season. Adelaide saw him as a difference-maker, and whilst the rest of the team failed to live up to their end of the bargain, Gibbs continues to impress in Crows colours.
He had 27 disposals and a couple of goals, and was effective with the ball all night. Gibbs is renowned as an outside player, and tonight was no difference. The Crows are missing some in-and-under grunt, but Gibbs will not give them that. They need to get the Crouch brothers back, so Gibbs can be the icing on the cake he was recruited to be.
Gibbs' long goal from outside 50 gave the Crows a chance, but it was quickly snuffed out.
Jeremy Howe taking marks in front
Now I’ve said “marks” because I want him to do it more.
It’s fine to take the screamers, and I love watching him do that, but tonight, Howe took a different kind of mark, and it’s the kind of mark that great defenders take in winning sides.
He stood his ground 20 metres from his own goal in the second quarter, with the possibility of a forward crashing into him from behind. He didn’t blink, and took the mark easily.
He’ll take another hanger soon enough, but tonight he stood in the hole and showed courage. Great job.
He has also started to demonstrate excellent defensive instincts when the ball is on the ground, turning towards the boundary instead of back into traffic, taking the ball over instead of looking to get a disposal away. I’ll admit, I have long thought he’d be a great forward at this stage of his career, but he is becoming better and better in defence.
Scott Pendlebury’s vision
I think we may take this bloke for granted at times. He sees things no one else on the field does. He cocks that handball, stalls for a second, then changes direction and hits a short pass thirty metres away.
Meanwhile, his opponent is wondering why he didn’t run in and tackle this bloke as soon as he grabbed the ball? I know why, because Pendles buys time and uses that time wisely. Class act, despite what Mike Sheahan thinks.
The fumbling, bumbling Crows
Adelaide fans would’ve been bemoaning the inability of senior players to take the ball with one grab at ground level. Whether a handball, a loose ball or a mark, the Crows could simply not take it cleanly.
And what happens when you fumble? The pressure increases. It only takes one fumble to set the wheels in motion. One fumble causes another, increases pressure and causes a third. The Pies turned the screws and the Crows kept fumbling. Going the other way, Collingwood was clean and crisp with the ball in hand, and the Crows could not apply the same kind of pressure.
They’d be desperate to get sure ball-handlers like Brad and Matt Crouch back into that side.
The Adelaide forward line
Here’s how the numbers looked at half time for the Crow forwards.
Walker – 5 touches, Betts – 4 touches, Jenkins – 4 touches, Fogarty – 2 touches.
There were a few questioning whether the Crows were a bit top-heavy before the game, given the wet conditions. Some speculated that Walker might be withdrawn as he wasn’t quite right. Well, he was out there, so he was deemed fit to play. I don’t know what the excuse was for the others, however.
At this point of 2018, Betts looks like he is nowhere near the player he once was. This was his third game from four starts this season where he’s failed to kick a goal, and while it pains me to write it, Fogarty couldn’t get near it either.
Mason Cox had probably the best five-disposal game I’ve seen. He had a couple of important touches on the ball that led directly to Collingwood goals. Though he had the lowest amount of stats in the game, he created contests in the Collingwood forward line, and up on the wing which either created opportunities for teammates, or caused stoppages.
Of Adelaide’s first four goals, two were due to 50 metre penalties. Not great.
I’m still not sold that Travis Varcoe does enough. Some of the things he does are important, but he just doesn’t get involved in the game enough. His run down the wing in the first quarter, gaining 80 metres for his team without gaining possession was scintillating. Would love to see more of it.
Adam Treloar’s game was fantastic. He was a link in the Collingwood chain so often, and was important in the way the Pies ran the ball through the middle. 36 touches were nice, but I liked the 11 tackles.
Eddie Betts sitting with an ice pack on the hamstring hurts the Crows. It may open the door for Wayne Milera to play a little more forward in his absence.
Cam Elliis-Yolmen’s move into the middle to combat the loss of the Crouch brothers isn’t quite panning out. He needs to be harder over the ball and throw that big body around more.
Speaking of big bodies, it was a nice comeback game from Jordan De Goey. He was by no means dominant, but he was effective, and was integral in the early pressure the Pies applied to the Crows.
Yeah, I see Rory Laird had 37 and Rory Atkins had 28, but I’m not sure they hurt Collingwood much at all. So many of their disposals were “get out of jail” kicks, as the time and space just wasn’t there for them tonight.
Please don't ask whether Darcy Fogarty wil be cited for undercutting Ben Crocker. Nothing in it.
In an instance that demonstrated just how far our game has come… or gone backwards, there was an opportunity for both Adam Treloar and Josh Jenkins to commit to a physical contest with around four-or-so minutes left in the third quarter. Both guys almost came to a stop. Neither went hard. I hated seeing it, but that is what is being cultivated at AFL level now – protecting the head, etc…