Well, the Collingwood v Brisbane game didn’t live up to their first contest of the year, and truthfully at times, it looked like a keystone cops routine. Alas, the Pies put the foot down in the third quarter and ran out winners by 31 points.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Adams is now playing so well that the Pies are not really missing Adam Treloar all that much.
That’s a dumb statement – let me try again. Taylor Adams is filling the void left by Adam Treloar so well that the Pies have hardly skipped a beat. Yep, that’s better.
Adams was best on ground tonight, gathering 16 contested touches amongst his 33 disposals for the game. He had eight clearances and punched Collingwood inside 50 on five occasions. If Treloar can get back, his pairing with Adams through the middle, and with additional pinch hitting by the hard running Jaidyn Stephenson thrown into the mix, the Pies could blow a few teams off the park in the finals.
Levi Greenwood shuts down Zorko
There was a lot of noise made at one stage that Dayne Zorko couldn’t handle a tag. He seemed to have shaken that mantle, but Levi Greenwood gave everyone a reminder that if you pay him attention, he is nowhere near as effective as he usually is.
Greenwood wore him like a glove whilst collecting 15 disposals himself, and executing eight tackles – several of them on Zorko.
In retaliation, Zorko managed 14 touches and seven tackles. If you’re Nathan Buckley, and before the game you’re told that Greenwood would gain one more possession than Zorko, and lay one more tackle, I reckon you’d take it, and Greenwood would be getting a few pats on the back in the rooms tonight as a result.
The Lions were one or two players away from really challenging the Pies up until late in the third, and one of those players should’ve been Zorko. Either he needs to learn to shake the tag, or his teammates need to come in and give him a chop out at stoppages to free him up. Tonight, neither of these things happened, and Greenwood had his way as a result.
You’ve got to hand it to the Pies. They keep producing solid players even amidst the mountain of injuries they’ve suffered.
Brayden Sier was very good tonight, picking up 27 touches and 13 contested possessions. He is a big body, can stand in tackles and runs hard both ways.
Sier has been building, and today he notched his second straight career-high in disposals. He had five tackles to go with his offensive touches and is the big-bodied midfielder that complements the hard running and silky skills of Taylor Adams and Scott Pendlebury.
The De Goey/Stephenson combination
Geez this has the potential to cause some headaches for teams.
I’ve watched the duo of Stephenson and de Goey terrorise defences individually this season, but together, they provide enormous problems. There have been instances where I’ve thought Stephenson has purposely seeked out de Goey and vice versa, and tonight, both of them looked dangerous.
De Goey threatened early, and always looked as though he could explode at any moment. He is just that sort of player – you may think you have him under control, but he is the rare combination of speed, agility, skill and power that you just don’t see often. Guys like Dangerfield, or Dustin Martin… that is the sort of player de Goey could become, but as for right now, being Jordan de Goey is more than good enough.
Stephenson is so much more than a first year player. They showed clips before the game comparing him and Cam Rayner, and if you put them side by side on their performances tonight, Stephenson is streets ahead. Yes, they’re very different, and Rayner will take a while to build the stamina that Stephenson has naturally, but side by side today, Stephenson looked so much more complete.
He finished with 25 touches, eight marks and slotted a couple of goals. In contrast, Rayner had 12 touches for the game and had little influence other than a couple of nice handballs in chains as the Lions ran forward.
Grundy v Martin
Martin started like a train, and… actually I reckon Grundy started like a train and Martin started like a sports car. Yeah, that’s a bit more like it.
Martin came out of the blocks firing, and his second efforts at stoppages really had Grundy on the back foot. Grundy took a hanger over Big Stef in the first quarter, but it was martin doing the little things to aid his team, and as the quarter ended, Martin had compiled seven touches whilst limiting Grundy to just one.
But you know those trains... once they get moving, they’re hard to stop, and Grundy got moving a bit more as the game progressed. He finished with 13 touches and 35 hitouts, and Martin compiled 18 touches and 24 taps. On paper, you could be tempted to give the nod to Martin, however three pieces of sterling ruck work have me leaning to Grundy.
The first one came late in the first quarter at a boundary throw in, and Grundy set Steele Sidebottom in motion with a thumping tap that cleared the immediate pack. If what Max Gawn does in tapping down to a stationary mid is a hit out to advantage, then this one was an advantageous hit out to double-advantage! It might have been the best ruck tap I’ve seen all year.
The second came in the middle of the third quarter, when a deft tap backwards saw Taylor Adams run onto the ball and go long inside 50. It resulted in a goal to Josh Thomas on a quick give from de Goey, but without Grundy laying it down to Adams, there is no shot, let alone a goal.
Finally, at the end of the third, Grundy received a free kick in the centre and wasted no time. He played on, and with great skill for a big man, hit de Goey lace out on the lead. He converted at a point where the Pies were putting their foot down.
In a fine duel between the two men, Grundy had 13 hit outs to advantage and Martin collected nine. I earmarked this mid-season as a game that could go some way to determining the All-Australian ruckman. Whilst Martin has fallen off the pace somewhat (he'd be getting more attention if he played in Victoria), Grundy is still right in the hunt.
Harris Andrews and Alex Witherden
I had to turn the commentary off tonight, as I felt I was starting to be swayed by the idiocy I was hearing around Alex Witherden’s disposal. Seriously, I get that he flirted with danger a little early on, but for Christ’s sake… he settled beautifully and played the same role he has all year, and has been lauded for doing so.
You wouldn’t have known it listening to the commentary – “Uh oh… it’s Witherden again…” Are they even aware that his role is to take kicks in order to open the game up across the backline? It’s his job to use those foot skills to hit difficult kicks and take risks… ugh!
Anyway, he finished with 30 touches for the night and went at 77% efficiency for the night. Best idea I had, turning the commentary off.
Onto Andrews. I watched him handle himself brilliantly as Mason Cox drifted forward tonight and I reckon he was outmarked once early by Mihocek on the wing, and he learned his lesson immediately. He took three contested marks amongst his 11 grabs for the game, and looked in control when the ball came into his area.
The Pies really throw your regular bigs a curve ball when they have De Goey and Stephenson up forward, as it leaves players like Andrews to play on others who aren’t necessarily the most dangerous forwards and can create enormous match up problems, particularly if there's an injury to deal with as well.
One moment of Luke Hodge
I’m an unabashed Hodgey fan, and with him being a good bloke and all, I always take notice of what he’s up to.
One little moment in the first quarter saw a downfield free kick paid to Jordan de Goey, and the forward line was wide open. The ball had spilled out toward Josh Thomas, and Hodge just wouldn’t allow him to get over to pick it up. It went on for 4-5 seconds and during this time, Brisbane was able to structure up beautifully and effectively kill any chance of the Pies getting wide open spaces inside 50.
Luke Hodge may have lost a step in the pace department, but upstairs… he is still as quick as ever.
Darcy Gardiner’s shoulder
This looked painful, and the fact that he didn’t come back on means that it was a little more than just your regular shoulder dislocation. Take it from me – a master of dislocating my shoulder - if you have a shoulder that dislocates, it can pop back in pretty easily. This one looked painful.
The incident seemed so innocuous. He just put the arm up to spoil de Goey in the forward pocket, and upon minimal contact with the Collingwood forward’s shoulder and back, clutched at it in pain.
Gardiner was the obvious match up for de Goey, and once he went down, Nick Robertson drew the short straw. He tried valiantly, but he was outmatched. Had de Goey had his kicking boots on, it may have been a very big day.
Dead rubber last quarter
It was 28 points the difference at three quarter time, but any hopes of a Lions resurgence were quickly snuffed out when both Jaidyn Stephenson and Chris Mayne goaled in the first seven minutes. The game was dead and buried, and the players competed as such from that point.
The foot well and truly went off the pedal, and it was evident in the defensive acts. At one point, Eric Hipwood, in game 50, marked at the top of the goal square, and his direct opponent, Tom Langdon allowed him to run right in to the goal line to kick the goal.
The cue was in the rack early in the fourth for the Pies, with only their best and fittest making big efforts. Hardly compelling viewing.
Did the Monstars come down from Moron Mountain and steal everyone’s ability for a minute or two? If you haven’t seen Space Jam, forget that reference.
There was a couple of minutes during the second quarter which were the exact opposite of everything the AFL want to see in the game. Dropped chest marks, shanked kicks, poor skills, turnovers and a missed goal… and it was stars of the game that were doing most of the screwing up.
The players were simply unable to get the ball back to big Oscar McInerny as he stood waiting to take his free kick at half back. Firstly, teammate, Eric Hipwood tried to kick a torp to him and completely botched it. Then the ball rolled past Big O and it held the game up for a good 15 seconds as it was retrieved. When he finally gathered it, Luke Hodge ran around the back and took the handball, but his kick completely missed Tom Cutler inside defensive 50. Not just by a little bit, either.
De Goey then dropped a chest mark, and moments later, the ball got over the back to him again, and he ran into goal. And he botched it. Luckily for me, I’d turned the commentary off by this stage so I didn’t have to endure the idiotic commentators attempting to get themselves over at the expense of what was happening on the field.
Suffice to say, both Hodge and de Goey would like a couple of minutes of this game back again. It was messy nut when some messy play is all I can find to throw in the 'ugly' section, you know you're travelling all right.
Brodie Grundy’s only touch for the first quarter was a massive hanger over Stef Martin on the wing. If you’re only going to have one touch for the quarter, I reckon you should make it a good one.
The Lions looked good running through the middle and half forward early in the game. With names like Beams, Martin and Rayner combining they looked anything but cellar dwellers. When they did look like cellar dwellers was when it came to delivering the ball inside 50. So many teams fall down right at that hurdle – the good ones hit targets.
I liked the snippets I saw from Starcevich tonight. He was hard at it when required and displayed clean hands under pressure.
The Pies were seriously struggling early to get the ball out of Brisbane’s attacking area in the first quarter. Whilst effective, those zones and covering switches so tightly really take it out of teams. They are so difficult to maintain for the entire game and can lead to teams fading.
On the other end, the Pies defensive press was so packed and compact, that once they released the pressure, they simply had no one to kick to. It happened three or four times early. They just had no one up ahead as they went to move the ball from half back.
I thought Sam Murray got away with a clear throw in the first quarter. No noise of affirmation and it cost Hipwood a shot at goal 35 out directly in front.
If Dane Beams does indeed want to leave Brisbane, there’ll be no shortage of takers for him. He was excellent again tonight.
I’ve been a little critical of Travis Varcoe over the journey. I still don’t think he does enough, but what he does do is always of a very high standard. His run down the wing to feed de Goey early in the second was classy.
Brodie Mihocek continues to make the most of his opportunities. With the news that Ben Reid has again torn his calf muscle in the seconds, Mihocek should be playing finals.
I see a fair bit of Justin Westhoff in Eric Hipwood. Neither of them look like they have any business near a footy field... and then you see them play and you're like "ahhh, that's why they're out tgere!"
The comeback of Chris Mayne to this Collingwood team has been a great story. He looked shot last season – absolutely cooked. And now here he is, week in and week out more than earning his keep. Another two goals on the board for him tonight.
I have no idea what Lewis Taylor was doing when he handballed directly out of a marking contest before he even hit the turf… did he think it was going to be called play on after not travelling far enough? Huge error that saw Mihocek goal after de Goey did the body work.
You don’t get many who deliver the ball well inside 50 these days, but mark Jarrod Berry down as one who does. He had three direct goal assists today and always looked to have patience..
Nice agility shown by Mihocek to have a tighter turning circle than “Titanic”Hodge to slot his third goal.
The old firm for Collingwood – Pendlebury and Sidebottom didn’t have the biggest influences tonight. But they didn’t need to – the Pies had some new faces bob up to fill the void.
Jack Crisp had another solid night off half back. He is the kind of bloke you have to run defensively with or you’re quickly made to pay.
Good to see James Aish get through unscathed. The Pies now need to keep their soldiers on the park and get some continuity into them.
So, the Pies continue to roll towards September. I have to admit, I didn’t think we’d be talking about them as premiership threats at this stage of the season, but here we are. For the Lions… it’s just the little things that bring them undone; the little poor kick or handball that doesn’t hit the mark really hurts them. I’m sure if they can keep this group together, they’ll build nicely, but their supporters must be so sick of being in the game and then letting it slip in one quarter.