Ding-Dong, will Collingwood go the way of Geelong?
Carlton and Collingwood - old rivals face off with new spice added.
Last week Hawthorn had two good reasons to sing and dance around what is left of VFL Park. There was the third dismantling of Collingwood this season to saviour, and then they heard the evil sorceress Geelong was gone.
For all their dominance this season Hawthorn has been dreading the prospect of meeting the Cats in the preliminary final.
Relief came from an unlikely source – Fremantle playing at the MCG – who put an end to Geelong’s era of dominance. She can no longer cast spells of impotence upon the Hawks, or the rest of the finalists.
I imagine the Hawks players tweeted their appreciation to Matthew Pavlich and his purple minions just as the Munchkins in The Wizard Oz conveyed their gratitude to Dorothy for disposing of the wicked witch:-
“We thank you very sweetly for doing it so neatly
That we thank you very sweetly
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – Below – Below”
Ding-Dong the reigning Premiers are gone. Are last year’s Runners-Up next to go?.
A Fairfax poll currently going asks if Collingwood has any hope of winning the premiership. Eighty five per cent of respondents – people who I assume are knowledgeable, level-headed and untainted with an anti-Magpies bias – have answered in the negative.
If looks are anything to go by Collingwood are finished. When they traipsed off the MCG on Friday night the hang-dog expressions matched perfectly the limp socks around the ankles. Socks down and jumpers out is the fashion of the modern player but with an opponent like Buddy Franklin prancing around you with vibrant hooped stockings pulled up to the knees, your casual style can appear decidedly sloppy.
Everything points to Collingwood’s season ending in straight sets on Saturday night against West Coast.
There was the drubbing against the Eagles just three weeks ago and the loss to the Hawks in the first final where they showed clear signs of frustration, giving away undisciplined free kicks and arguing with each other.
They will be without their defender and captain Nick Maxwell for the match (and the preliminary final if they get there) against a side brimming with tall dominant forwards.
Collingwood’s possessions are well down on those from their minor premiership year. They have fallen three positions and their percentage has plummeted. Hawthorn’s possessions were also far lower than last season but they managed to take the minor premiership and increase their percentage.
They badly miss Leigh Brown and Leon Davis. With a lack of key position personnel they rely heavily on their numerous midfielders but have suffered recently from insipid performances by Daisy Thomas, Steele Sidebottom and Sharrod Wellingham. Perhaps uninspired coaching has something to do with it also.
Despite these indicators, however, something tells me the Eagles may be in for a shock.
Last Friday, the Pies were at times merely gob smacked spectators of the glorious Hawthorn show but they did manage to muster two comebacks.
They resorted to chipping the ball around until an opening appeared – usually the path that led to Travis Cloke, one-on-one with an undersized Ryan Schoenmakers.
It was ugly to watch but it did provide a hint that they may not be finished. Andrew Krakouer was an ever-present danger and if their midfielders can begin to kick some goals again their fortunes would change immediately.
They presently seem to be lacking structure and confidence but it’s important to remember that they are a very experienced group. It’s hard to believe that Dale Thomas at 25 has already played 150 games and fought in several finals campaigns. Ten of the current squad lie in the club’s top forty for number of games played.
More significantly, they are one of the more talented sides. As Paul Roos said this week: “They really rely purely on talent. I think that’s what scares the other teams in the competition”.
Despite having the form West Coast should be nervous about Saturday’s game.
With an abominable record against the Pies, Sydney would rather not have to face them in the preliminary final.
And if Hawthorn are relishing the prospect of playing them in the grand final they should take note that the three lessons they gave Collingwood may have taught them how to win again.