Sydney v Collingwood - The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Swans were able to hold off the Pies in the last quarter and hit the front again with minutes remaining to launch back inside the top eight.

Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

He’s back x 1

So, we would be pretty heartless if we didn’t acknowledge the emotion surrounding the return of Alex Johnson. Well, we’d be MORE heartless than we are – acknowledging it doesn’t make us great people.

Many questioned whether Johnson’s inclusion in the team was the emotional string John Longmire needed to pull in order to get his team up and about, and even though he denied it was, it was a stellar coaching move. You could hear the crowd lift when he touched it, and you could see the steel in his teammates’ eyes at the beginning of this game.

Right from the outset, Papley’s attack on the ball left no question as to the Swans’ intent.

In terms of Johnson’s individual performance, it was ordinary early but got better as the game progressed, despite the fatigue. He turned it over plenty by foot in the first half but rallied to finish with 15 touches and 11 marks, the latter stat one off being a game-high.

Great to see him get through the game unscathed.

He’s back x 2

It’s hardly a comeback if he was never gone, but there had been a few worrying signs from Buddy Franklin in the weeks prior to this. Well, rumours of his footballing death have been greatly exaggerated.

Franklin exploded, and kicked 6.4 for the game, including three shots that hit the post. He was big in the last quarter, taking a contested mark to settle his team as the Pies pressured them and but for a few coats of paint, could've had a big bag.

Buddy added six tackles to his night, and two direct goal assists to be the most influential player on the ground. You had to feel for Jack Madgen in his first game, being thrown onto Franklin in the third quarter as the Pies scrambled to find cover in the absence of Darcy Moore (yet again).

Franklin kicked a couple of his trademark goals from 50 on the angle, which always bring a smile to my face. I’m not sure anyone else has ever looked as confident from that spot on the ground – you know the spot. 55 metres out, on an angle worse than 45 degrees. His conversion from there is wonderful.

Dane Rampe

At quarter time, Travis Varcoe had matched Franklin’s three goals with three of his own, and was looking very dangerous.

For the next two and a half quarters I hardly sighted him. That would be thanks to the defensive efforts of Dane Rampe. Whilst others chopped and changed depending on the situation, Rampe was the constant on Varcoe as the Swans took him out of the game and assumed control.

Rampe had 28 touches at 71% efficiency, and had 10 intercept possessions as well. He cleared the ball out of defensive 50 on nine occasions and provided stability and run out of the backline.

Brodie Grundy

I’m getting a little tired of people thinking Max Gawn has the All-Australian ruck spot sewn up. Are they not watching this bloke?

Grundy was dominant in the ruck against Cal Sinclair, who is no slouch at all. Grundy had 20 hit outs to advantage, 17 contested disposals amongst his 24 total touches, and took the ball out of the ruck three times in the forward line to get three shots at goal. I have no idea why Sinclair continually allowed Grundy the front spot; whether Grundy just worked harder or Sinclair was too passive or slow to react – I don’t know. The fact remains that Grundy continually took front spot and looked dangerous. Sinclair was lucky Grundy only came away with one goal from those stoppages.

In their clash earlier in the year, Grundy actually got the better of Gawn, and at this stage of the season, he has his nose in front of the AA race, for mine.

Tom McCartin’s last couple of desperate acts

OK, he had a really poor night, right up until the last couple of minutes, and it was a good lesson that even if you’ve been beaten all game, you can still have an impact. You’re thinking that it is his last goal that we’re going to focus on, right? Well…. yeah, but there is another moment I want to highlight too.

His attack on the ball with a few minutes left on the wing was EXACTLY what you want to see from a young big man. He threw himself at the loose ball, took clean possession despite colliding with Jaidyn Stephenson, and dished it off to Jake Lloyd. The defender then delivered inside 50 and hit Franklin, but that doesn’t happen without McCartin committing to the contest.

This was the type of game that you could forgive a young forward for going missing – we’ll not be pointing the finger at Stephenson either for a less than stellar night, but when the moments came in the last quarter, McCartin stood up. Great signs.

His goal to win the game for the Swans was classic Sydney. It was a goal borne of sheer will and determination. He didn’t just throw his foot at it, he had to throw his body forward out of the pack, and then throw his foot at it. It rolled, rolled, and rolled through. I know a lot of miraculous goals get the nod for goal of the year – Higgins’ incredible effort last week, Jack Steven’s hack out of mid-air, and Luke Parker’s amazing over the head kick are all wonderful goals, but in terms of the moment, and importance, has there been a bigger goal this season than McCartin’s?

Surely it has to be in consideration for goal of the week at the very least based upon the situation. Well done, Tom.

 

THE BAD

Non-clearance kings

If I pulled you aside before the game and told you that Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom would combine for one clearance for the game, you probably would have assumed that the Swans had won by at least 6-7 goals.

Well, that’s what happened at stoppages, yet with two minutes to go, Collingwood was in front. They relied heavily on Brodie Grundy to get his hands on the ball (nine clearances) and Taylor Adams (11 clearances) to pick up the slack left by the Collingwood leaders.

As a team they still won the clearance stats 36-35, but the consistent driving force that is the tandem of Pendlebury and Sidebottom were completely subdued at stoppages. A lot of this credit goes to Luke Parker, who put a fair bit of time into both at stoppages, and George Hewett, who collected 10 clearances of his own and really put the clamps on Sidebottom around stoppages.

 

THE UGLY

Darcy Moore injured again

This is becoming a huge concern, not only for the Pies this season, but for the career of Moore. It’s the fourth time this season he has been sidelined with hamstring issues, and it is on the verge of becoming a chronic problem.

The Pies had such high hopes for Moore this season. They wanted him to be the key to their defence, but he has spent more time doing rehab this year than playing footy. For a young man with so much talent, he has hamstrings like old rubber bands.

What do you do now if you’re Collingwood? Do you put him in cotton wool with the knowledge he may be ready to sign with another club in the off-season? Do you work to get him back and hope nothing goes TWANG in the finals? Nathan Buckley must be tearing his beard hair out.

 

OTHER BITS

Great first quarter duel between Buddy and Darcy Moore early on. When  Moore backed himself, he left Franklin for dead at times, marking out in front of his face, but that doesn’t mean he was winning. Franklin finished the quarter with three goals – I’ll take that every day of the week.

Really tough call against Brayden Maynard for a deliberate rushed behind. If the rule is that he has to be closer than the end of the goal square, it had to have been close. It was such a big price to pay for a desperate act.

The Swans defence with Aliir back there looks good when he can rely on players like Lloyd as his “get out of jail” disposal. Personally, I don’t rate Aliir’s disposal (yet) but having Lloyd running off half back is a luxury a smart team would want to put the clamps on.

Sydney look a better side with the cool head of McVeigh in the 22.  

Goal-saving tackle from Pendlebury on Ronke as he ran into goal was great. The youngster had Buddy running alongside him for the handball, but it would’ve just transferred pressure. Fantastic tackle by Pendles – his tackling has been a real highlight of his game this season.

Not quite sure what Nick Smith was thinking with his kick that wasn’t a kick in the second quarter. It looked to me as though he saw something he liked up ahead, but as he dropped the ball, he thought… “yeah nah” and decided to pick it back up.

I keep waiting for Tom Papley to have a massive game, but it hasn’t happened this season (that I’ve seen). He jumps in and out of the game and does little things that look great, but needs to get some consistency in his game. His hand candy in the second quarter bought him the time he needed to run in and have a shot from 35, yet he didn’t make the distance. He’s a bit of a conundrum at the moment, yet I feel he could be pivotal in big moments of a final.

Good to see Jordan Dawson clunk a big mark as Buddy rested on the bench. He looks really good above his head, and adding a couple of goals to support Franklin up forward.

Any danger Josh Kennedy is in trouble for his “dangerous” tackle on Pendlebury? I actually hate writing that. I think there is a real grey area between what is a dangerous tackle and what is a good, hard tackle. There was another one later on where Langdon was tackled to the ground after trying to stand up in it – what are players supposed to do? Allow the bloke to stand up and get rid of it? I hate that rule. Hate it with a passion.

Loved seeing Alex Johnson wrap up Tom Phillips in a tackle as he tried to sell the candy to him. He's not lost all his agility with those knee recos.

I wrote earlier about the Grundy hits to advantage, but what I’d really like to see is a stat around hits to direct disadvantage. I thought the Swans did a really good job of getting in the way and sharking quite a few of Grundy’s taps, and this seemed to escalate when Mason Cox went into the ruck. If anyone knows if this stat is kept, and where it’s hidden, could you let me know?

Massive collision in the marking contest between Mayne and Kennedy. Marginally late by Mayne, but it was a hard hit. Glad to see the umpire not jumping the gun and being tempted to give a 50. It was high, but it was in the contest.

I thought Tom Langdon was good all day. He was able to get in front of Buddy a few times and break up forward thrusts. He had 26 touches and 19 contested disposals for the day – possibly his best outing of the season as he stepped his game up to cover for missing defenders.

A moment in the third between two rising star contenders was telling. Ben Ronke attacked the ball really hard and took possession. Standing and watching him do it was Jaidyn Stephenson.

Not often you see Pendlebury get caught holding the ball, but Hewett got him. Pendles was looking around for an option as Hewett latched onto him and had nothing. That tells me that there were several Pies not running to make position and provide an option at that stage.

Luke Parker’s smother on Will Hoskin-Elliott’s attempted kick from half back was indicative of the Swans early in the last quarter. They just killed the contest for a good 6-7 minutes after Franklin’s opening goal, bottling it up and refusing to allow any space.

A few really telling misses from Mason Cox in the last quarter. He doesn’t get great penetration on his kicking at all. In terms of his marking, I know Buckley has been critical of his treatment in marking contests but Cox was a basketballer and doesn’t have a great low centre of gravity – all you have to do is have a body on him as he runs at the ball and he won’t be able to get a good leap at it. Take away that leap and his chances of marking greatly decrease. If you give him a clear run, as the Swans did, he will clunk them. Sounds easy, huh? I’m sure it’s a little more difficult, and I’ll concede I am being simplistic, but there is a good reason you see basketballers leaning on each other when rebounding. Give it a try. Get someone just to lean on you a little bit as you try to jump. 

Franklin was incredibly unlucky not to get a free kick against Langdon for an arm hold in the last quarter. It appeared as though the ump was blindsided, and that is the only reason I can see for it being missed.

Nic Newman had a pretty good day – 24 touches at 83% efficiency – but that one kick in the last quarter out on the full under no pressure… he’d like to have that back. It allowed Will Hoskin-Elliott to slot a beautiful drop punt from the boundary. Maybe that vision should be sent to cam Rayner and Ollie Wines after their “around the corner” efforts earlier in the day?

Loved the strength of Josh Kennedy and his ability to get a kick away despite being on the ground, with Stephenson draped over his back. That ball should not have been able to get out of that situation, but credit JK’s determination and power.

Mayne’s move forward almost paid off immediately, but his shot from the pocket hit the post. No matter – minutes later, his clean hands allowed Travis Varcoe to receive on the run and slot the goal to give Collingwood the lead.

Sending everyone behind the ball can really bring a team undone. When Steele Sidebottom won the ball in the middle, he had absolutely no one to go to. No one! He hacked the ball inside 50 and Isaac Heeney had taken it upon himself to play the goal keeper. His rebound 50 was integral in the Swans going forward and McCartin kicking the winner. Sometimes you just have to have someone deep forward.

Again it was Heeney deep back as the Pies desperately went forward in the dying seconds. He took the intercept mark to repel the final advance of the Pies. Like McCartin earlier, just because you’ve done bugger all for the whole game doesn’t mean you can’t have an influence late. Never drop your head.

 

Like what you’re getting from The Mongrel? Want more? Give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter and that’s exactly what you’ll get. And maybe we’ll stalk you… who knows?