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Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs: Friday Night Forecast

Adam Treloar in his former stripes (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)
Expert
24th May, 2018
45
1264 Reads

We’re well and truly into the mid-season grind now. The cold has set in and the bye rounds are just a few weeks away.

After nine games we’ve got a pretty good idea of what most teams are.

The Tigers and Eagles are really good. The Blues and Suns are really bad. The Dogs are young, inconsistent and not much good. The Magpies are … well … I’m not sure what the Magpies are.

The Pies are well and truly in the mid-table scrap of teams with finals aspirations – they have as many wins as seventh-placed North Melbourne and are two points ahead of the 11th-placed Giants.

Collingwood’s most impressive performance of the season was undoubtedly their eight-goal hammering of the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

Jordan De Goey

Jordan De Goey (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

They also impressed for three quarters against the Tigers before getting steamrolled in the final term and losing by seven goals. Their other four wins are against Carlton, Essendon, Brisbane and St Kilda. Ho-hum.

Maybe they’re exactly what their record – 5-4 with a percentage of 107 – says they are: an above average team. It’s hard to shake that performance against the Crows though.

If we’re to learn anything about Nathan Buckley’s side tonight, it’ll probably only be negative, because this is a match they should win.

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The Dogs were dismal agains the Crows last Friday night. They didn’t adapt at all well to the conditions and wasted their chances in front of goal, something that’s become a common occurrence for the 2016 premiers.

The Bulldogs have managed just two fewer scoring shots than Collingwood this season, for 137 fewer points – only twice this season have the Dogs scored more goals than behinds.

According to stats guru Robert Younger, Footscray have converted almost 25 goals below expectation this season – or more than 20 per cent under expectation, which is on track for the worst season since Robert starting tracking expected scores in 2013.

That’s bad guys.

Luke Beveridge has never been shy about swinging the changes and this week is no exception, with a couple of surprise omissions in Mitch Wallis and Josh Dunkley. Lukas Webb has also been axed to make way for Josh Schache, Roarke Smith and Tory Dickson.

Luke Beveridge

Luke Beveridge (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

It’s a shame Wallis can’t cement his spot. He hasn’t been the same since breaking his leg in 2016.

Perhaps Schache can partner with Tom Boyd to straighten the Dogs out a bit and create some easy chances. Dickson has been a great finisher in his 91-game career, so he’s a welcome addition.

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It’ll be a test of the Dogs’ tall forwards as well as their ball movement to generate quality shots. Collingwood defenders Jeremy Howe and Matt Scharenberg are among the best intercept markers in the competition. The Magpies are ranked fourth this season for marks conceded in their defensive 50 thanks in no small part to that pair.

At the other end of the ground the Pies are relying on a collection of versatile mid-sized forwards. Jordan de Goey – 15 goals in just six games – is enjoying a breakout season and coming off a six-goal haul against the Saints only a couple of weeks after bagging five against the Lions. He looks like a new and improved version of former Dog Jake Stringer.

Last year’s No.6 pick Jaidyn Stephenson has also impressed with 12 games from his first nine games – that would be enough to lead the Bulldogs’ goalkicking – and Will Hoskin-Elliott (15) and Josh Thomas (13) have been terrific contributors.

Midfield guns Steele Sidebottom and Adam Treloar have each spent a bit of time up front as well, both adding seven goals this season.

The returning Ben Reid has been named at centre half forward, but teams sheets don’t count for a lot these days. There’s every chance Reid gets the job on one of the Dogs’ tall forwards and Nathan Buckley goes with Mason Cox as the only tall target in his attacking third.

The midfield battle should be a good one. It all looks pretty even: Scott Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Treloar, Tom Phillips and Taylor Adams on one side, Marcus Bontempelli, the red-hot Jack Macrae, Toby McLean, Lachie Hunter and Luke Dahlhaus on the other. Having Bontempelli and Pendlebury on the same football field should be a treat. The Dogs will no doubt need the Bont to do some forward up forward as well.

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Brodie Grundy could be the one to tip the midfield scales in Collingwood’s favour. Jordan Roughead and Boyd will have their work cut out to negate the big Magpie from exerting his influence around the ground.

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Beveridge is yet to lose to Collingwood. In fact, if the Dogs can get up tonight it’ll be their sixth-straight win over the Pies, matching their best ever run.

The Bulldogs are certainly in with a chance. They’ve played the soon-to-be Marvel Stadium pretty well this season, but I expect the Pies to make better use of their forward chances and get up by about 20 points.

That’s my Friday night forecast. What’s yours?

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