Pies too classy for tough Crows
Sharrod Wellingham and Collingwood were on target on Saturday night (Slattery Images)
During last night’s tight clash between Adelaide and Collingwood one commentator predicted that a piece of magic in front of goal would decide it. He was right.
In the final quarter Scott Pendlebury took the ball at speed and swirled around while his pursuer Nathan van Berlo fell to earth. Lying on his stomach, the Crows captain was forced to watch Pendlebury’s snap shot curl beautifully between the goal posts.
Then it was Dayne Beams’ turn to leave a sprawling defender behind as he snapped truly. Alan Didak kicks a goal from fifty metres out, Wellingham soccers a major and to finish off, Steele Sidebottom puts a banana kick through the middle. DalThomas’s skill and running were responsible for many of the forward attacks.
Goals had been hard to come by in the tough and absorbing contest played in greasy conditions. Up until Pendlebury’s goal there had been little concern for aesthetics – Paul Roos describing it as a game of “scrubbed kicks” – but with those few sublime acts Collingwood won the game.
With less than thirteen minutes to go there was little to separate the teams in terms of possession, and it was only a point the difference. In a blink of an eye, though, poor gallant Adelaide had lost by twenty-six points.
Brenton Sanderson has said his team’s recent success is based on a simple strategy: big bodies winning contested possession. I’m sure his willingness to be a mentor, the role he played as an assistant at Geelong has also played a part. His own early experiences as a struggling player will be invaluable to the young playing group.
It was no surprise the match was played the way it was, as the coaches have similar ideas. Before the game Buckley said: “It starts and ends with contested possession and the forward lines and backlines look after themselves”.
Adelaide were impressive but they were found out in the end by Collingwood’s class and ability to withstand constant pressure. Big bodies and contested possessions on their own won’t win you a premiership.
Since losing to Hawthorn and Carlton, Collingwood have repelled impressive comebacks by the current ladder leaders Essendon, and the reigning Premiers Geelong. They have been able to perform despite injuries to key defenders and poor performances from their power forward Travis Cloke.
Cloke and Chris Dawes were mostly awful last night but all-rounder Tyson Goldsack kicked two goals to redeem the forwards.
Most players in the Collingwood squad are relatively young but are also veterans of consecutive Grand Finals. That experience is priceless. Also, injuries have forced them to blood youngsters which will serve to build up their arsenal.
They’re not dominating the home and away competition like they once did but considering what happened to them in last year’s decider, that might not be such a bad thing.