AFL Premiership 2011: Round 1
Collingwood Vs. Port Adelaide
Etihad Stadium, 26th March 2011
Collingwood: 6.1 / 13.3 / 18.6 / 24.11 (155)
Port Adelaide: 3.1 / 5.6 / 11.6 / 12.8 (80)
Collingwood: 4 Dawes, 3 Swan, Blair, 2 Johnson, Cloke, Buckley, Beams, 1 L. Brown, Didak, Jolly, Krakouer, O’Brien, Macaffer
Port Adelaide: 4 Westhoff, 3 Thomas, 2 Irons, 1 Cassisi, Schulz, Boak
Votes: 5 Johnson, 4 Dawes, 3 Swan, 2 Shaw, 1 Pendlebury
It was very much a mixed bag at Etihad Stadium yesterday, with the match ultimately being decided by two 10 minute periods of dominance from the Magpies. Amongst these bursts were scrappy passages of play and periods where – to their credit – Port Adelaide got the better of us. As we would have expected, the boys are probably a little while off hitting top form, but as we saw throughout the NAB Cup and again yesterday, when they do step it up a notch they are virtually impossible to stop.
The first quarter was a real arm wrestle, with Port Adelaide starting the match well in the pressure stakes and forcing our players to execute poorly. However, Port Adelaide soon discovered how difficult it is to maintain the required level of concentration and intensity to curtail the black and white machine, as we piled on three goals heading into the first break to provide us with an 18 point buffer.
Ben Johnson and Swan were fast starters as they racked up possessions seemingly at will. Up forward, Chris Dawes was providing a prominent target and down back Heath Shaw was providing his usual drive. Luke Ball set the standard when it came to winning inside football or locking up opponents who had similar intentions and Sidebottom found plenty of the pill early before fading out a little as the game were on.
The second quarter was all Collingwood, with the Pies slamming on seven goals straight, to go on top of the three straight we kicked before quarter time, to establish a 58 point lead towards the end of the second quarter. A lapse of concentration towards the end in the quarter resulted in the Power kicking two late goals, reducing the margin to 45 points heading into half-time.
Chris Dawes was immense in the second, not just providing a strong target deep – resulting in two goals for the quarter – but also working hard further up the field. Johnson continued to find plenty of the ball and importantly, was using it extremely well; he was eventually rewarded for his efforts with a long running goal to cap off his 20 plus first half possessions.
After steadying with two late goals in the second quarter, Port started the third quarter with a quick goal and then held sway for the following 10-15 minutes. What was a frustrating – and admittedly surprising – period of play saw Port Adelaide’s midfield get on top and whittle the margin from 45 points back to 16.
It was some Andrew Krakouer magic that sparked the team into action. After selling some candy to the man on the mark and then another oncoming Power player, Krak screwed the ball back with a lovely running check-side that would have brought the roof down at Etihad had it not been open. We then kicked three goals within the next 2 minutes – through Beams, Dawes and Cloke respectively – to take the margin back out to 42 points heading into the last quarter.
After breaking Port’s back in the last 5 minutes of the third term, Collingwood went to town in the last kicking six goals to Port’s one. The likes of Beams and Wellingham worked their way into the game after relatively slow starts, whilst Ben Johnson finished the match strongly and was comfortably our best on ground. Simon Buckley had a forgettable three quarters, but managed to redeem himself slightly in the last with two very nice goals. Given the sting was out of the match, those goals might not be enough to save him after some fairly ordinary efforts earlier on.
The little big man in Jarryd Blair kicked his third in the final quarter, to go along with 22 possessions and 5 tackles in what was a terrific contribution. Heath Shaw was solid from start to finish, with some terrific individual efforts such as his run down tackle of Hitchcock and some solid relieving marks. Darren Jolly looked a lot better compared to some of his preseason performances and was unlucky not to be rewarded by his team mates on a few occasions after working hard into dangerous positions.
Chris Dawes was the most influential big man on the ground, finishing up with 4 goals, 20 possessions, 6 marks and 5 tackles. His second efforts were customarily smart, his chasing and tackling was first rate and his preparedness to work hard up the ground to provide relief as a “get out” option for our defence was noteworthy. Dawes is in for a very big year at this rate and looms as an almost impossible player to match up considering his size, endurance and ability at ground level.
The clear and most deserving best on ground was Ben Johnson, who was terrific over the entire course of the game. In a performance that was marred by fumbles and some questionable decision making on our part, Johnson was clean and direct all day long. Johnno put in a complete performance, finishing the game with 33 disposals and 2 goals, but it was also how effective he was with the ball along with his work at limiting the influence of Danyle Pearce — who had little to no say on the game.
Chris Tarrant showed some improved form as he settles into the senior squad. Our defence was admittedly exposed in the third term as Port managed to orchestrate more one out contests after getting on top in the middle. With that said, Tarrant managed to get a bit more involved when rebounding and looked more solid than he did during our preseason campaign. The returning Ben Reid was a little less reliable than we’ve come to expect, but will be better for the run. An important thing to remember when assessing our back line is that we still have our captain to return; who is guaranteed to steady our defence. I can’t see a run like Port had in the third yesterday occurring during Maxwell’s watch.
Andrew Krakouer’s official debut in the black and white would be rated a success. Similar to the likes of Beams and Wellingham, Krakouer worked his way into the game and played a big part in the third term where he racked up 9 or 10 disposals for the quarter. Krakouer finished the game with 19 disposals and 5 tackles – along with that goal – before being rested in the last as we brought on the substitute Brent Macaffer.
A few players were down on usual standards, with the likes of Didak and Sidebottom quiet and Dale Thomas and Pendlebury less clean compared to their usual lofty standards. It was great to walk away with a percentage boost to start the season with the knowledge that there is plenty of improvement to come. We were up and down for the first half of last season as well, before steadying and becoming near on unbeatable.
Results such as yesterday are almost ideal in some ways, as a 75 point victory is a great way to start the season yet the club will have plenty of material to go over during the post mortem. Port were commendable for periods, but I hope we don’t see too many lulls such as that which occurred during the third term yesterday, because better opposition will make us pay a higher price. All the same it’s good to see that even with a few quiet contributors, others are able to step up and that the club can find a new gear – sometimes seemingly at will – and put teams away in a heart beat.
I wouldn’t exactly call it the perfect start, but it was a good one nonetheless.