Steady now: Dane Swan leaves Fremantle’s Nick Lower tumbling in his wake. Swan’s relentless work ensured the Magpies would never lose the initiative.COLLINGWOOD 3.2 6.7 10.13 15.17 (107) FREMANTLE 0.2 2.6 6.6 12.6 (78) GOALS Collingwood: Dawes 3, Swan 2, Thomas 2, Paine 2, Cloke 2, Goldsack 2, Beams, Buckley. Fremantle: Pavlich 5, Mayne 2, Broughton 2, Pearce, Mundy, Clarke. BEST Collingwood: Swan, Blair, Wellingham, Beams, Thomas. Fremantle: Barlow, Pavlich, Johnson, McPharlin. UMPIRES Donlon, Jeffery, Mitchell. CROWD 44,891 at MCG.
WHILE this was very much a clash between Collingwood and Fremantle, in the important early stages at the MCG yesterday it appeared in some ways primarily a battle of the loose men in defence.
For the Magpies, Heath Shaw had the role as the spare man to provide assistance and important rebound.
For the Dockers, Michael Johnson had the task of helping to combat Collingwood’s key forwards.
When the game was in the balance in the opening term and the start of the second, it was Shaw – and the Magpies – who were able to achieve more with their relentless run and superior efficiency.
The Dockers preferred to have an extra man at stoppages than one dealing with Shaw, the idea being to prevent an early blow-out on the scoreboard.
It didn’t work, with the Dockers also struggling because of what skipper Matthew Pavlich would later brand a ”handball happy” manner that resulted in turnovers.
Shaw was able to spread wide, ensuring the Docker forwards could not curb him, but Johnson too often found himself mired in heavy traffic.
Harry O’Brien also found himself alone at stages. Like Shaw, he was able to assist Ben Reid in handling the Dockers’ key forward, Pavlich.
Magpie skipper Nick Maxwell said Shaw did what was asked of him.
”It tended to work,” he said. ”The Dockers are renowned for that – dropping seven defenders behind. They have some good players there, with Johnson and Adam McPhee, they can zone off on.”
By the time the Dockers, attacking via the wings, built some momentum with their first goal, almost 18 minutes into the second term, the Magpies had six majors on the board – a margin the visitors were never able to bridge.
Players such as Dane Swan, Dayne Beams, who had a heavy knock early, Jarryd Blair and Sharrod Wellingham, the latter more often than not finding himself unmanned, took charge and would eventually help the Magpies to a decisive 69-33 advantage in inside-50s. Then there was the Magpies’ pressure.
”We probably had more forward-half turnovers than we have had all year,” Maxwell said. ”I think that got us going. Jamie Elliott had 10 inside-50 tackles, which is just outstanding.”
Chris Dawes, in need of a strong performance, was prominent early up forward. So, too, was Tyson Goldsack, who has emerged as a key component inside the Magpies attacking 50. When Collingwood’s power forward, Travis Cloke, found himself one-out with McPhee in the goal square, resulting in the Magpies’ third goal, it was clear the tactics of Fremantle coach Ross Lyon were not working.
The Magpies did as they pleased early in the second term, and were even helped by Johnson, who was tackled by Alex Fasolo after playing on from a kick and gave a goal to Jackson Paine.
The Dockers would finally rally midway through the second term, dominating the contested possession and booting two quick goals, the second to Pavlich after a rare one-on-one contest.
Trailing by 25 points at half-time, the visitors realised the handbrake needed to be released.
The results told a tale that regularly has supporters questioning why some coaches prefer such rigid defensive game plans. Lyon opted to send a man to Shaw and O’Brien, and the pair could no longer do as they pleased. This allowed Pavlich to have more one-out contests with Reid, and he responded with two of Fremantle’s four goals in the term. The Dockers kicked three in a row at one stage and slashed the Magpies’ lead from 40 points to 17.
But a crumbing goal to Dawes, who slightly rediscovered his groove, and the relentless run of Swan, ensured the Magpies’ lead would not be seriously questioned despite Fremantle’s best efforts.
”At a deeper level, there was a bit to like about our persistence,” Lyon said after the game.
Michael Barlow was clearly the Dockers’ best, but he did not have a great deal of support. Swan was superb, and his three-possession effort early in the final term, which started across half-back and finished up forward, allowing Cloke to snap his second of the afternoon, highlighted his work ethic. Swan has now had 42, 38 and 43 disposals in his past three games, and is firming for back-to-back Brownlow medals.
Cloke, after a week of focus on his contract negotiations, worked hard but had only seven possessions. He was subbed off soon after his second goal to give speedy Irish debutant Caolan Mooney his first run.
Things looked grim for Collingwood’s Dayne Beams in the opening minutes after he suffered a knock to the head. He was taken to the bench for a concussion test. But the young forward wasn’t planning on missing a chance to seal the Pies’ 10th straight win. He returned to the field and any thoughts that he may have been a bit woozy soon evaporated. He was one of the Pies’ main men, with 32 disposals.
It took Fremantle until almost 17 minutes into the second quarter to score its first goal, with about 67 per cent of the play happening in Collingwood’s forward half. The Dockers failed to capitalise on opportunities, with captain Matthew Pavlich and Zac Clarke both missing straight shots at goal. But while the Magpies were four goals up at half-time, their lead should have been greater. Chris Dawes had a shocking kick out of bounds on the full from about 40 metres and Dane Swan missed from 20 metres in the opening seconds of the third quarter.
Fremantle refused to give in and was quick to turn defence into attack in a fiercely fought third term. The Dockers goaled twice from four inside-50s before Pavlich cut the margin to 17 points with his first major for the game. Dawes and Travis Cloke were quiet up forward, with Beams and Swan doing the heavy lifting. But just when Fremantle looked dangerous, the Pies kicked quick goals to return their lead to five goals. It was even goal-for-goal in the final term, but the Pies managed to stay a few steps ahead. – JARED LYNCH
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.