After an abysmal, sloppy and untidy first half, the heat went up in the third quarter, and the stars came out to play.
There’ll be a lot of talk about mistakes, and sadly, a fair bit will involve the late kick from Jeremy Howe that went straight to Patrick Dangerfield, but there were plenty other moments that could be construed as just as pivotal
And we’ll touch on a few of those as we go through the good, bad and ugly of the Cats and Pies.
If I’m handing out votes, I’d be giving him three. Rhys Stanley was like the forgotten ruckman out there tonight. If you watched on TV, you would’ve heard the commentators lauding the game of Brodie Grundy, and the impact he has on a contest. You could be forgiven for thinking that Stanley simply didn’t exist. Jesus Christ, guys… there are two ruckmen competing out there, you know?
Yes, Grundy usually does have a huge influence, but he didn’t tonight. That would be because Rhys Stanley was fantastic all game aside from one free kick he handed to Grundy in front of goal (which Grundy missed).
Long-term readers will know I am a huge Grundy fan, and had him as my number one ruck in our All-Mongrel team last season, but I found that the only times he got on top was when he was matched up against Esava Ratugloea, who really didn’t know how to use his body at allagainst Grundy. Against Stanley, Grundy was ineffective.
The numbers will tell you that Grundy had a good game – seven clearances, 18 touches and 34 hit outs, but if we’re comparing him to his 2018 self, this game was nowhere near what we expected, and that was due to the efforts of Stanley.
The Geelong ruckman finished with 18 touches of his own, had 23 hitouts and sent the Cats inside 50 on six occasions. He stood up in the last quarter, and if we were scoring on points, he definitely had the better of Grundy when the heat was on.
This off-season, I was sceptical about whether or not Stanley was the man who could be the number one ruck for the Cats. Well, if I am anything, I’m someone who will happily admit he’s wrong. In regard to whether Rhys Stanley can carry the Geelong ruck division, I had my eyes opened.
Going into this game, I was wondering just how dominant Brodie Grundy would be. Turns out he wasn’t dominant at all, and the reason for that wears number one for the Cats. He was fantastic.
DANGER’S SECOND HALF
I’m not sure there was anyone more desperate on the ground than Patrick Dangerfield in the second half. This wasn’t a game that’ll rank with his best, but for maniacal attacks on the ball at ground level, this was Dangerfield at his obsessive best.
He only had ten contested touches amongst his 27 disposals for the game, but his ability to keep a ball alive, continue to battle, grab possession and get to his feet is quite remarkable. I also like the fact that he seems to give a shit defensively (something I reckon his peer, Dustin Martin did NOT do last night). It’s as though Danger takes it personally when he is beaten, or something doesn’t go his way.
I have to admit, I kind of like that. It means there is a level of personal pride in his performance, and he will work diligently to ensure no one gets the best of him. Sure there’ll be times when players do – we’re talking about the best of the best matched up on him – but it will never, ever be for lack of effort.
I’ll write a little about his momentum-swinging third quarter piece of play a little later on.
LUKE DAHLHAUS’ PRESSURE
If you were wondering what Dahlhaus would bring to Geelong, look no further than the dying moments of the third quarter. With the Pies running out of defence, Adam Treloar received the ball and started to take off. He evaded one tackle, but Luke Dahlhaus wasn’t going to sit back and watch him go. As Treloar straightened up, Dahlhaus closed the gap and nailed him in a tackle.
Treloar wasn’t pinged for holding the ball, but he didn’t have to be. The ball spilled to Joel Selwood who went inside 50 where Dangerfield marked. He went back and slotted the goal, and whilst not much was made of Dahlhaus’ defensive efforts, his pressure in that instance was a stand out.
Others may have focused on the goal – here at the Mongrel, we are focusing on the great Dahlhaus chase and tackle that made it possible.
He had an equal game-high six tackles for the night, which is exactly what the Cats need inside their attacking half, and though he was a little sloppy at times, his workrate without the ball more than made up for any errors he made with it.
All up, it was a wonderful first-up performance from Dahlhaus – he is precisely the kind of player to give the Cats a little bit of mongrel, and you know I love that.
If only every key forward attacked the contest like Jamie Elliott does. In that first half, he looked like the only forward capable of doing anything out there. That said, when you look at his game as a whole, his influence kind of dissipated as the players around him stepped up – de Goey in particular.
He finished with three goals straight and one direct goal assist to be the most potent forward on the park, but with just eight touches, you wonder how much damage he will start doing once he gets some match fitness.
What is also worth noting is that Elliott’s presence inside 50 has shaken up that Collingwood forward structure. We’ll get to the absence of Jaidyn Stephenson from the forward half soon, but Josh Thomas looked like he pushed much further up the ground as well.
Elliott’s best goal was his first – the body use to get rid of Blicavs at ground level was fantastic, and he just looked so quick in recovering, taking possession and snapping. It was crazy that he got that sort of time so close to goal.
GAZ UP FORWARD
He was given a fair bit of freedom to roam far and wide, and I thought he played the role he was designated perfectly tonight.
Last season, and even tonight in the mongrel team chat, there was a bit of talk about him not wanting contact, and handing off when the pressure came – I’m not sure I agree with that, but even if I did, at 35, there was only one sort of physical contact I was after, and it wasn’t of the football variety.
I loved what Ablett brought to the table in the first half in particular. His hands are so clean, and he adds a touch of class at stoppages. Perhaps his days of winning multiple clearances are gone, but he still has the ability to read the play, work into space and be on the end of a chain of handballs to send the Cats inside 50… even if he did get over-excited on one occasion and shanked it out of bounds.
His first goal was vintage Ablett. Hunched shoulders, head over the ball, taking his time to steady… lovely finish – something so many others simply could not do tonight. But I guess that’s what he’s the Little Master, and they’re not.
I think Gaz’s time as an AA mid may be a thing of the past, but in this role, could a 20 possession and two goals per game average be enough to see him sneak in as the small forward? Stranger things have happened, and we’re a long way off anything like that.
I have a feeling that by the end of 2019, health permitting, we may be speaking about Treloar as the best running midfielder in the game. He worked so hard today to get from one contest to another, as other Collingwood midfielders seemingly meandered along, waiting for the play to come to them.
Though de Goey’s shot at goal in the last quarter was a complete shank out on the full, without Treloar’s hard run and multiple possessions in the chain, the ball doesn’t even get to him.
His goal in the second quarter, steaking Tom Stewart’s handball out of mid air and quickly snapping is the sort of instinctive goal that simply cannot be taught. Treloar’s double hamstring injury last season was a shocker, and really pumped the brakes on what was shaping up to be a spectacular season. Here’s hoping he stays healthy this year, as we could be about to see his stocks go through the roof.
So I heard someone talking about Tim Kelly wasting the footy tonight. Not real sure he wasted it, but he got plenty of it, and only seemed to belt it forward blindly when he was under extreme pressure.
He had 31 touches, with 13 coming in the first quarter where he looked to be the only player in the midfield who wasn’t stuck in pre-season mode. He also had a game-high, and career-high nine clearances to sit comfortably in the Cats’ best for the evening.
Watching him tonight, there is so much riding on whether he stays in Geelong after this season. He has the ability to slot in and become the best midfielder in the team after Danger starts to decline (not yet… don’t panic) and he actually looks fitter this year than he did last. And he was excellent last year!
I really liked his hands in close today, and he seems less inclined to shirk the issue when a tackle comes his way this year – that was probably my only criticism of him at times last year; he didn’t look like he wanted to take the contact in order to give to a teammate in a better position. If tonight is any indication, that won’t be something we need to worry about this season.
JORDAN DE GOEY
Okey doke – is he healthy? Is he underdone? Is his ankle bothering him? Because the Round One 2019 version of Jordan de Goey is not the same player we saw in 2018. Not yet, anyway.
He was fumbly, his kicking wasn’t on at all, and he made one terrible decision to handball backwards, when the open goal beckoned and the scores were tight. I am guessing he’d want that opportunity back right about now.
I get that he was trying to do the team-thing, and hand off to Josh Thomas running past, but there are very few players I’d like to have the ball in that situation more than de Goey. Call it a brain fart, a cock up, an error in judgment, but in a game decided by seven points, how important is it to make the most of your chances in the last quarter? More to the point, how important is it to actually take the responsibility and as the deepest forward, turn and kick for goal? Jordan de Goey didn’t even do that on this occasion.
That was a golden opportunity to create a goal. The fact that no Collingwood player was able to get a boot to ball at all means that it was a monumental screw up at a crucial time in the game.
I’m guessing we’ll see some vintage de Goey form sooner rather than later in the season. He is a player who looks like a superstar, and will be one if he’s healthy, but we’re focusing on this game, and this game alone… and he wasn’t much good in it.
THE BEST MIDFIELD IN THE CAPER?
So, let’s give them a tick or a cross.
Treloar – TICK. Ran his backside off, and made multiple contests. 34 touches and six inside 50 deliveries.
Steele Sidebottom – CROSS. Finished with 26 touches, and had ten in the last, but he didn’t hurt the Cats at all. Of those ten in the last, three came in a chain across half back that basically went 60 metres. Looked like he was on cruise-control, and that’s not good enough.
Dayne Beams – CROSS. Unsighted in the first quarter but added 21 touches after quarter time to work his way into the game. Still, if we’re talking about having an influence… he had very little outside of an opportunistic goal.
Scott Pendlebury – TICK. He had 24 touches, matched up on Dangerfield at stoppages, and still managed six clearances of his own. Shouldn’t have to be doing the bulk of the work at this stage.
A fifty percent return for the big four. I reckon at the first hurdle, they’ve stumbled a little. Maybe they need Taylor Adams in there playing his role to balance things out. Or maybe that just means one more chief, when the Pies need an Indian or two in there. Let’s see how they recover next week.
NO STEPHENSON UP FORWARD?
We saw signs on the JLT series that Collingwood may use Stephenson’s leg speed to get out over the back this season. He kicked 38 goals in 2018 and took over 60 shots at goal. If the Pies think he is better suited running through the midfield, so be it, but he hardly spent any time up forward today, and after all that success in his first season, are the Pies trying to fix something that wasn’t broken?
I am going to hazard a guess that he spent more time at half back and the wing than he did forward of centre tonight, and whilst I am positive that there’s some method to the madness, on a night when Stephenson running inside 50 would’ve been invaluable, we got to see him faff about with the ball, collecting 16 touches and running at 56% efficiency.
Nathan Buckley has been questioned for years about his coaching, and I am sure he’ll be questioned again, but if he addresses the decision to move Stephenson up the ground, can you please let me know? I’d really love to hear what his thinking is around it. I think Stephenson will make a great running mid at some point, but in a midfield that is STACKED at the moment, is moving him in there now jumping the gun? I don’t know, but even if you guys have an opinion on it, I’d love to hear.
THE FIRST HALF
I reckon there may have been some rules committee members looking at each other and thinking up some crazy schemes to make the game more attractive as we reached half time and the teams had kicked seven goals between them.
Could it be time for… Zooper goals to liven things up? How about electric shocks for last touch out of bounds? castration for misses inside 20 metres… there’d be a few players regretting things tonight.
The first half was messy, it wasn’t a pretty spectacle, and we had star forwards who simply couldn’t get near it (Hawkins three touches, de Goey four touches). Players were missing goals from 20 metres out (hello to Brodie Grundy and Gary Rohan) and we weren’t really seeing a great representation of our game.
Thank god we had a break and the teams came out ready to play in the third, because that first half was a shocker.
TRELOAR STUCK ON THE BENCH
So you have this bloke who has had an ultra-consistent evening. He’s had ten touches in the first, ten in the second, ten in the third, and then, with six minutes to go in the game, he is standing on the bench, waiting to get on… and he can’t.
Credit where it’s due – the commentators were talking about this way before it happened. They were speaking about the time allocated to rest Selwood and Dangerfield to enable them to be on the ground when the game was to be decided.
Why couldn’t the Pies do that? Treloar was there, looking frustrated, as the Collingwood bench signalled frantically for people to interchange. And still, Treloar waited.
As good as Pendlebury is, as good as Sidebottom is (average tonight), Treloar is your line breaking midfield match winner now. He needed to be on the park with the game on the line, Poor player management from Collingwood had him resting for too long in the last quarter and the game slipped away.
I’m not silly enough to say that had Treloar been able to get back on the ground that the result would have been different, but it’s a decent “what if…” to ponder, right?
A TWO MINUTE GOAL REVIEW?
Well, one minute and 48 seconds to be exact. Way too long to give a result on something that was evident in the first angle they viewed. The ball was obviously touched – everyone could see it was touched, and they postured, looking at a very different, less obvious angle for a minute and a half before deciding to go with an umpire’s call.
The ball was touched. Don’t go “umpire’s call”. Show some balls and say it’s a behind.
What’s the record for swear words picked up by the umpires’ microphones? I reckon we could’ve given it a shake tonight. Onya Jeremy Howe for being so passionate about umpires being consistent – how about you be consistent with your kicking?
I was expecting a little more from Esava Ratugolea in this one. Quite easily in the least effective players on the ground, and I really want to see him use that bog body to hold his ground in both marking, and ruck contests.
The kicking of Tom Phillips – I’m not really sure I’ve noticed it until tonight, but he really burns the pill at times. Pies fans, is this a common thing, or was it just a bad night from him?
Jeremy Howe’s unpaid screamer… no sense of occasion, umpire!
Loved what Joel Selwood brought to the table in this one. He’s looking thinner, fitter and just as determined to lead the Cats back to glory as ever. Really, he can’t do much wrong in my eyes. He could smuggle a gun onto the ground, shoot three players, and I’d call it great strategy - possibly my favourite ever player not from my own team.
Did Pies fans think they got a bit of a raw deal with the umps? Dumb question, I know, but did they think it more so than usual? There was plenty of noise being made, but other than a couple of softy McSoft in the back frees, I didn’t think it was too poorly umpired. Maybe it was the disparity with marks being paid? There is such wild fluctuation in terms of what is “holding it long enough” and what isn’t.
I didn’t mind the game of Darcy Moore, carrying on from his JLT form. Not sure he was beaten one-on-one all game, but it looked like he missed an assignment all together on Hawkins at one stage.
Gary Rohan is so hit and miss. He still possesses that closing speed when chasing, which is good to see, but how he managed to get caught holding the ball by Tom Langdon in the second quarter, I’ll never know. The goal was begging to be kicked, but he tried a step… without taking a step and got caught.
Isn’t it amazing how just one player taking the game on can change things? In the third quarter, Dangerfield decided to take Steele Sidebottom on after taking a mark at half back. He stepped around Sidey on the mark and got the Cats running. The end result was a mark to Joel Selwood inside 50, and a goal. It would be the first of three in a row for Geelong, and that one action by Danger got the ball rolling.
Brody Mihocek has really found his role as the hit up half forward for the Pies. Whilst I don’t think he is ever going to be a stand out match winner, he is a worker who knows what he’s out there for, and does it well.
Some pretty handy work from Jordan Clark tonight, highlighted by his sizzling pass to Hawkins in the third quarter.
So is the answer to the midfield issues Geelong were having last year moving both Ablett and Selwood out of the guts? Only one clearance tonight for Selwood, and Gaz had two. Kelly, Danger and Parfitt carried the load alongside Stanley in there tonight. Maybe a sign of things to come, but part of me thinks that when things go wrong, you’ll see both the captain, and their Brownlow medallist push in to help Danger out.
A pretty handy 21 touches and a vital goal for Charlie Constable this. I like his run, and that 86% efficiency rating is nice for a bloke in game one.
And you know what? That’s going to do me for tonight. Really enjoyed the second half, but if I go the rest of my life without watching another first half like the one we saw in this game, I’ll be a happy man.
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