St Kilda by five goals

Well folks. I’m off to the MCG. Again. Who knows who will win but I have a bad feeling. Here are my thoughts.

  1. Collingwood is a better side.  Much better.
  2. To a remarkable extent collingwood forsakes the main weapon of most sides – the lead out from goal, the pass to the lead.
  3. Otherwise they’re very effective. Great in defence, great across half back and a great midfield. Apart from the lead they’re very effective up forward but haven’t solved their inaccurate kicking which is partly a result of being forced wide and snapping under pressure.
  4. St Kilda have a game which is well placed to neutralise our strengths – as they’re St Kilda’s strengths too.  Some sides have the ‘wood’ on others.  Saints have not quite the wood, but have a good defensive style to capitalise on our weaknesses.
  5. One side will win comfortably.
  6. Interestingly, although the game last week was of a very high standard, most of the best players for both sides didn’t play very well. Our three great midfielders, Swan, Pendlebury and Didak were all down. So was Riewoldt.
  7. Whichever of these guys can lift their game will win for their sides.

Anyway, like I said, who knows, and this list seems to add up to a Collingwood win.  But I’ve not a bad feeling, when I had a good feeling last week.

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6 Responses to St Kilda by five goals

  1. John Passant says:

    All is forgiven. Magpies in Melbourne, Saints in Sydney.

  2. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Well I was wrong, but I’m not complaining. A great win. Still, as ever, beware of the narrative fallacy. St Kilda was unlucky with its kicking in the second quarter and could have been well within reach without that. But against our relentless pressure they didn’t have the horsepower.

    We’ve now had twelve quarters against the best two sides in the league. Comprehensively crushed Geelong for three of three quarters and the final one didn’t count. Crushed St Kilda for the first two and let them back in in the second two last week. Crushed them in all four quarters this time around. That’s 11 out of 13 quarters. Quite an achievement, and I daresay the game has been taken to a new level.

    Some of the great teams are just better than their opponents. Brisbane is the best example. And this can be wedded to a very exciting strategy – viz Geelong. We’ve got great players, but there’s also something mercurial about our strategy. Just as it was hard to figure out how Sydney managed to flood the defence and still kick enough goals, just as it was hard to figure out how St Kilda was doing something similar last year and beating everyone, it’s hard to figure out how Collingwood can put so much pressure on their opponents and still have the space to get away with the ball. But for 11 of 13 quarters in the last three weeks we’ve made it impossible for our opponents to do anything much, while we’ve cobbled together a few goals by mainly banging it down there to our power forwards – Cloke, Jolly (dangerous when resting!), Dawes and Leigh Brown and improvising or running it in from just outside of 50.

  3. Rafe says:

    It would have been closer without the Heath Show smother and the “posters” but it is hard to see how the result could have been different. The really strange thing is how close the Saints got to a win last week.

    A strange call, acccording to a report somewhere, a commentator said of Shaw “he sneaked up on him like a librarian”.

  4. Rafe says:

    Would it make a difference to have someone like Jonathan Brown at centre half and a recognized full forward like Bradshaw or Lynch? Come to think of it, I can’t even recall who plays in those positions for the Pies. Is it a matter of changing the attacking stategy or it is a matter of doing the best with the troops who are there. Is there a forwards coach at the club? What is he saying to them? Has he spent quality time with Cloke?

    This is not just a carping commentary, if the attack is not lifted they remain vulnerable to sides that are not nearly as good, like Saints last week.

  5. Nicholas Gruen says:

    Rafe – at Troppo all your questions are answered.

    Would it make a difference to have someone like Jonathan Brown at centre half and a recognized full forward like Bradshaw or Lynch? Come to think of it, I can’t even recall who plays in those positions for the Pies. Is it a matter of changing the attacking stategy or it is a matter of doing the best with the troops who are there. Is there a forwards coach at the club? What is he saying to them? Has he spent quality time with Cloke?

    A recognised full forward would be a Good Thing, but they’re very rare. We have a guy called John Anthony who’s the right size – probably 6’2″ or 6’3″ and who is fast and kicks straight as a die. But unfortunately he runs round like a chook with its head cut off. Tries to take specky marks and doesn’t seem to know where to lead. Then again, the way we play we seem to invite our opponents to have a lot of defenders in our forward fifty, so you need someone who’s strong. Dawes is strong as an ox and not a bad kick these days, so he’s not bad. He can run fast but is slow in a Big Man kind of way.

    Cloke is the most talented Centre Half Forward in the game. But inconsistent. This is the lot of Centre Half Forwards, it’s the hardest position on the field for some reason. I think he’s been badly coached. This year – which wasn’t a particularly good one – he would quite often be found running all the way to half-back. Damn silly when you’re a spearhead and you don’t get relief on the interchange bench. But that didn’t happen in the finals. He’s a good kick too, but has a confidence problem. Kicks very accurately at practice and then stuffs things up in the game.

    I think our forward strategy is pretty good with one exception. From a long time ago we are one of the weakest leads in the game. This goes back at least to Rocca. I think there’s some sense in having your big forwards not lead, but just make it hard for the other sides, taking the occasional mark, but then you need small players who run past and other small or medium sized players leading. Oddly while we are very strong in the ‘goal sneak’ department (Davis, Didak, Sidebottom, Medhurst, Dick – in fact we’re so strong we end up dropping some of them), I’ve not seen a disciplined approach where one big forward will go up and one or two littlies will be running past. And our littlies don’t lead much – like the rest of them.

    Buckley is our forwards coach, which is a bit of a worry. Great player though he was, I fear he’s not too bright. And he was a great midfielder who could operate effectively as a forward, but was never much of a revelation up forward.

    This is not just a carping commentary, if the attack is not lifted they remain vulnerable to sides that are not nearly as good, like Saints last week.

    Indeed. For a long long time, I’ve had the impression that we need to overwhelm other sides with our intensity to win the game. Not efficient. I think we’re easily the best side in the league. This is a side from which the following players were dropped.

    Josh Fraser, Leon Davis, Simon Prestigiacomo (which my spell-checker wants to spell ‘Prestidigitator’), Tarkin Lockyer, Paul Medhurst, Shane O’Bree, John Anthony.

    I think the first three have been in the All Australian squad and that all but the last one have been state players. By contrast the GF sides we’ve fielded since around the mid 1970s have had their fair share of plodders. I can’t really think of a single plodder in our side. Yes I can. Dane Beams didn’t have a great year, but he’s pretty young. And so far Jarred Blair has been pretty ordinary, but then he’s only played around 8 games and I would have said the same of Steele Sidebottom at the same stage in his career and SS is damn good. Quick, depdendable and dangerous. I think something similar is expected of Blair.

    It’s an awesome side, every bit the equal of Geelong or perhaps even Brisbane at the height of their powers.

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