mattys123′s Match Preview Round 3 – Collingwood vs Geelong

Apr 2nd, 2014 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview

pussiesCollingwood vs Geelong, MCG, Saturday night, this is huge. After 2 rather indifferent rounds to start the 2014 AFL premiership season these two great clubs will meet in a crucial matchup this weekend. If recent clashes are anything to go by this should be one hell of a battle too. The only time they met last year the Pies won a classic by only 6 points, in what was one of the games of the year. In fact the Magpies have won all 3 of the regular season fixtures since the 2011 Grand Final where Geelong won it’s 3rd flag in just 5 seasons, defeating Collingwood on that day. Of course, apart from that season decider there’s also been 3 recent preliminary final clashes, with the Cats holding a 2-1 advantage in those 3 games. The most famous of those games was the 2007 preliminary final when the underdog Magpies almost shocked the AFL world but just fell short.

Whenever these sides meet you are guaranteed of a high quality game between two proud and strong football teams.



Geelong has taken care of business as expected in the first two weeks, defeating the Crows at home and then last week overcoming the Lions in humid and wet conditions in Brisbane. Both wins weren’t stunning by any means but at no time did you really feel like they were in any danger either, as they went about disposing of their opposition in a typical Geelong like manner. The usual suspects have led the way for the Cats with Selwood, Johnson, Mackie and Bartel all in the best players in the first two games. What would have impressed coach Chris Scott though is the return to form of Varcoe and Caddy, who both had injury interrupted seasons last year but have performed very well in the first two rounds. The Cats haven’t changed too much since last year, but their youngsters are continuing to improve and their experienced stars are still performing, so they are a top four contender once again.

Collingwood copped a heap of negative pressure from fans and the media after their round one collapse against the Dockers, and rightfully so, and were always going to be closely watched to see how they bounced back against the Swans in round 2. The Magpies started poorly though, trailing the Swans by four goals early in the second quarter, which left the biggest club in Australia on the precipice of a disastrous 0-2 start to the season. But up stepped the new captain, Scott Pendlebury, and the old one, Nick Maxwell to lead the Pies out of oblivion and towards another stunning win on their favourite home away from home, the Olympic Stadium in Sydney. Other great contributors on the night included Dayne Beams, Jamie Elliott, Brent Macaffer and young ruckman Brodie Grundy. The most impressive Pies player of the night was Jack Frost though, who in just his fourth game managed to restrict Sydney’s gun recruit, Lance Franklin, to just two goals. It was a win the Magpies badly needed, and one that they can now use as a standard to perform by from now on.



After a stunning come from behind win like the Magpies just had, you’d think everything would be looking up at the most famous club in Australia, but yet again injuries have reared their ugly head. The most prominent of course was Nathan Brown’s shoulder injury, which at one stage looked like keeping him out for most of this season, but the prognosis isn’t that bad with 4-5 weeks the reported length of his absence. His injury was a blow to an already depleted Pies defense and then came the news that just about the only remaining fit small defender, Ben Sinclair, had suffered a hamstring injury and would miss the next 2-3 weeks as well. It doesn’t leave too many defensive options for coach Nathan Buckley with Lachie Keeffe the obvious replacement for Brown, but not much after that. Alex Fasolo has been trialled down back in the few VFL hitouts he’s had over the past few weeks, but he impressed more as a forward in the round 1 win for the VFL side. Of course there’s Goldsack or Lumumba who can play a defensive role but that robs the Magpies of the option of using them in more attacking positions. It’s a headache indeed.

The positives are that within that side that won in the VFL on Saturday there were several senior players who will be available for selection over the coming weeks. Fasolo impressed, as did Ben Kennedy, Kyle Martin, Peter Yagmoor and Josh Thomas, although the latter probably needs one more run under his belt before returning to the seniors. There are options for the Pies coaching staff, just not of a defensive nature, which is the biggest concern at the moment.



It seems that over the past few seasons, every time the so called experts do their pre season ladder predictions, Geelong is a side that is tipped to slide due to an aging list. Yet every season the Cats prove them wrong, continuing to not only make the top 8 but going oh so close to making another grand final, as they did last year. This season the Cats have already continued their well trodden plan of blooding young players before most believe they’d be ready, and so far it has worked. It helps when you have some of the absolute stars of the competition around I guess, but the Cats have been able to stabilise and continually improve their list while other clubs have fallen away. Despite going into this game with several key players out injured or suspended Geelong will still field a very strong 22 with very few weaknesses.

Geelong’s backline for years has been a strong defensive unit that could stand up against any set of forwards, and this current line up isn’t much different. Led by multiple All Australian Harry Taylor who is ably assisted by Tom Lonergan and now Jarryd Rivers, the Cats defensive talls have enough talent to cover any key positions forwards. Then you add names like Kelly, Mackie and Varcoe and you get an understanding of just how strong this area of the ground is for Geelong. In the past Taylor and Lonergan have been able to restrict the output of Travis Cloke, although they will have the added task of covering Jesse White this year. It’s just a pity Ben Reid isn’t playing because then we would have seen some very interesting match up choices indeed.

The Cats midfield is as strong as any in the competition, although there was a question over their ruck ability in the past few seasons. Thankfully for them, Hamish McIntosh is finally fit after missing all of last year and he will be their number one ruck for the foreseeable future, with support from youngster Dawson Simpson. Of course the midfielders of the Cats are led by the ever dominant club captain Joel Selwood, who is next to unstoppable really, all you can do is hope to restrict his output on the day. This midfield group isn’t as strong or as deep as it used to be, but with Johnson, Varcoe, Stokes, Guthrie and Caddy included in the group it’s still very strong. It may not possess as many big names as the Pies star studded midfield, so it will be interesting to see how they go on Saturday night at the stoppages.

The Cats forward line has undergone several changes in the past few seasons but Tom Hawkins has always remained as the main focus inside 50. This season Mitch Brown, after several years toiling in the VFL, seems to have been given the chance to snatch the second tall spot and has impressed so far in 2014. Of course with the likes of Johnson, Bartel, Stokes, Duncan and Murdoch all rotating through the forward zone too it makes for a very strong and effective forward set up. The Cats managed 18 goals in their first game and even got close to breaking the 100 point barrier in the rain against the Lions, so there’s little doubt about their ability to put the score on the board. That goes double when you look at who won’t be playing in the Pies defense, with Reid, Brown, Williams, Sinclair and Seedsman all unavailable this weekend. It’s the are of the ground the Cats should dominate, if they can get it in their often enough of course.

While their recent record against the Magpies isn’t that good, the Cats will go into this game very confident of a win after two impressive performances to start the season. This is their first real test of the year though, so it’s still a little bit unknown as to how well they are going, and the absence of Hunt and Enright might really make this a close game. To win the Cats will have to at least break even in the midfield, as they should have the more efficient forward line on the night. Odds are it will be another tight battle between two tight teams so the 6 day break after playing the Lions may come into it late on.



Although Collingwood have won all 3 regular season matchups since that 2011 Grand Final loss, the Cats are by no means an easy team to beat. It may be a case of the Pies matching up well against Geelong, or even just meeting them at the right team of the season. This may be one of those cases too, as the Cats are 2-0, and won’t be absolutely desperate to notch another win this weekend. The Pies however will see it as an opportunity to get their season fully back on track after that terrible start.

The selections for both teams are fairly predictable, with very little that either side can bring in that would massively effect the result. The loss of Brown and Sinclair for the Pies is somewhat cancelled out by the loss of Enright and Hunt for the Cats and that should ensure a very close game. The 6 day break may be the determining factor here, especially given it was also hot and humid in Brisbane last Sunday. So because of that, I’m tipping Collingwood to go to a 2-1 record with a come from behind win over the Cats in front of a big crowd.


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