Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
In Round 13 these two teams met in what was a top of the table clash. Collingwood knocked the West Coast Eagles off their top of the ladder perch in a bruising encounter, winning by a slender three points in what many thought was a preview of the Grand Final. Both teams have had a horror patch over the last couple of months, the Eagles having the worst of it and sliding way down from the top of the Ladder to sixth position. Collingwood had no trepidation about the trip west, having not lost a game there since 2007. Dubbed the “House of Pain” by opposing coaches due to the loud roars of parochial hometown fans, Patersons Stadium was packed to the rafters with supporters hoping to see another thriller.
Collingwood started off controlling possessions and chipping and marking the ball. The Magpies had over 20 plays before the Eagles even touched the ball. All the action was happening at the Pies’ end of the ground but woeful kicking at goals didn’t help their cause. Some sloppy defensive play by the Eagles gave Alex Fasolo the first goal of the game. Luke Shuey evened up for the Eagles after receiving a free kick for a high tackle. Tyson Goldsack found himself on the end of some Dale Thomas magic to put Collingwood back into the lead. The Pies looked very sharp with their accurate foot passing in stark contrast with the Eagles players who were fumbling and mishandling the ball too often. Fasolo popped up for his second goal and things were looking shaky for West Coast. Collingwood had taken an incredible 29 marks to three so far in the game. Against the run of play, Daniel Kerr read the ball off hands at the back of a pack and snapped a steadying goal, but the Magpies regained control when Scott Pendlebury kicked a clever “banana” off his left foot. His goal had Collingwood leading by an even two goals as the quarter ended.
Big Nic Naitanui put his stamp on the game when he goaled first for West Coast in the second quarter. He received the ball from teammate Shuey who burst through the center shaking off Magpies in his wake. The run on style of play was proving to be the best way to score with the Collingwood backs dominating and the Eagles’ forwards shut out of the action. Continuing with the fast break style out of the center clearances, Shannon Hurn sprinted through a pack and thumped a monster 60 meter kick forward. The ball sailed through for a goal to give the Eagles the lead for the first time in the game. Hurn’s goal lifted the Eagles’ intensity and they piled on goal after goal to put the Pies on the back foot. Sam Butler joined the goal-kicking party after a chain of crisp and accurate hand passes moved the ball from one end to the other. When Adam Selwood kicked the last goal of the half, the Eagles had scored six goals through six different goal kickers and had held Collingwood goalless for only the second time this season.
West Coast led by 11 points at the half time break and continued to dominate over Collingwood as the second half got under way. Josh Kennedy scored first after more Natainui magic got the ball to him. It was a welcome goal for Kennedy after being out with injury for some months. His partner in the forward line, Jack Darling, followed up soon after to have the Eagles scoring six unanswered goals and effectively burying their opponents. They were plus 15 in the contested possessions and looked to have all the answers. Collingwood moved the “A” team into the middle to try something different but they were under siege from an aggressive and determined Eagles’ midfield crew. The Pies’ big forward guns in Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes continued their recent flat form and could not even impose themselves defensively. Chris Masten made the most of a turnover by Cloke, running and bouncing to score the Eagles’ seventh goal in a row. Cloke, who is looking for big money on the free agency trade at the end of the year, didn’t do much for his stocks when he gave up the chase on Masten in disgust. Josh Hill became the tenth Eagle to score a goal with a laconic snap from a Dean Cox pass. Collingwood came back belatedly to score the last two goals of the third quarter. It was Steele Sidebottom who scored their first goal since the 25 minute mark of the first quarter after being awarded a free kick. Dayne Beams snapped truly on his right foot to bring the margin back as the siren sounded to finish the quarter. The deficit was cut to 33 points but the Pies clearly hoped to carry the momentum into the final stanza.
When Magpie Paul Fasolo scored the all-important first goal in the last quarter, he narrowed the margin to 27 points, which in the modern game is gettable. Andrew Embley steadied the Eagle ship with a right foot snap on goal to stop the flow of Collingwood’s play. The sealer for the Eagles was a piece of poetry. Shannon Hurn booted yet another 60 meter kick from the backline that cleared the pack. Andrew Gaff was on the end of it and ran and bounced four times to score a cracking goal to have the home town fans delirious. Although the Pies scored a consolation goal from Jarryd Blair, the Eagles powered away with a couple more of their own to take the game by over eight goals.
The surprise victory by the Eagles found them back in the Top Four for the much sought after "double chance" in the Finals. They take on the in form Hawthorn in Melbourne next week but in all probability will fall back into fifth when the season finishes. Collingwood will face a demoralized Essendon next week and will be expected to win and reclaim a place in the Top Four.
To view David Woodley's game photos, go to: http://www.afana.com/drupal5/category/image_galleries/2012_season/home_and_away_games/round_22_west_coast_v_collingwood/14-2248
Scoreboard West Coast: 2.4 6.8 11.12 15.17 (107) Collingwood: 4.4 4.9 6.9 8.10 (58) Best Players West Coast: Naitanui, Kerr, Shuey, Waters, Embley Collingwood: Johnson, Fasolo, Beams, Thomas, Pendlebury
Article last changed on Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 6:17 PM EDT