Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
A clash between the two top teams in any sport is guaranteed to get the fans out and the hype up. The Collingwood Magpies had the sit on top spot while their challengers, the Fremantle Dockers, were looking to take it away from them. In their 16 year history as a club the Dockers have never been on the top of the table, and this round was their best chance to change that statistic in front of 42,000 fans at Subiaco Oval.
John Anthony, back for the Magpies after a month, got the visitors off to a perfect start with a goal coming from a midfield turnover by the Dockers. The Pies were manning up and were very crisp with their disposals. At close quarters they were accurate, finishing off their kicks by hitting a target every time and scoring goals easily. In contrast the young Dockers seemed overawed by the big occasion and were tentative with their handballs and kicking. Collingwood were fierce in their tackles as were the Dockers. Reece Shaw was caught holding the ball by Matt De Boer and the resulting pass saw Paul Hasleby score a major for the Dockers. Travis Cloke and Scott Pendlebury chipped in with two goals each, while Garrick Ibbotson snagged a late one for the Dockers. It was one-way traffic for much of the first term with the Pies kicking out to a healthy 23 point lead.
Fremantle were quick out of the blocks in the second quarter. Ryan Crowley’s two goals and an inspiring Captain's goal to Matthew Pavlich put the Dockers only five points behind. From then on it was goal for goal. The game opened up and was more free flowing with the wide open spaces of Subiaco suiting the young Fremantle midfielders. Cloke was dangerous up forward, marking everything that came his way in a return to form that had his team mates working hard to get him the ball at every opportunity. Crowley ended up with three goals for the quarter and the Dockers clawed their way back to be trailing by ten points at the long break.
Injuries started to mount for Fremantle with key defender Luke McPharlin and the hard running David Mundy sidelined. Collingwood stuck to their game plan of possession and accurate ball movement, and after both teams traded goals initially, the Pies split the game open. Collingwood have a knack of turning their opponents around with long and accurate kicks over the defenders' heads into the forward line. Exploiting the lack of height in the Dockers’ defense, Dane Swan, Cloke and Alan “Dead Eye” Dikak, took it right up to the Dockers by kicking the next four goals in a row. Fremantle were on the ropes with knees buckling at this stage of the game. They took the standing eight count when the siren sounded to end the third quarter and were 41 points behind as they regrouped to finish the game.
Hopes were up for a home team resurgence when a free kick to Alex Silvagni saw him score Fremantle’s first goal to start the last quarter. Aaron Sandilands was not having his usual easy game in the ruck, with the Pies winning the center clearances with regularity. When Collingwood scored the next three goals the game was as good as over. Coach Mark Harvey virtually conceded when he took his king pin Sandilands off the board and benched him. While a couple of late goals to the mercurial Hayden Ballantyne gave the Dockers some pride, the game was effectively won in the third quarter when Collingwood put their collective foot down and cruised into top gear.
This game was a tale of young guns taking on a more mature and seasoned side. Collingwood are now one game clear on the top of the ladder. Fremantle, although not humbled, were given a lesson they will learn from and will only be stronger for their next encounter on the big stage. Collingwood are on fire and look to be red hot favorites for the Finals and perhaps the Premiership Cup come September.
Scoreboard Fremantle 3.3 9.5 11.5 15.7 (97) Collingwood 7.3 10.9 17.10 20.13 (133) Best Fremantle R Crowley, P Duffield, P Hasleby, A Sandilands, H Ballantyne, M Pavlich Collingwood T Cloke, D Swan, D Beams, C Daws, A Didak, C Wood
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 9:34 PM EDT