Season to date
Could it be that Collingwood aren’t actually that good? At eight and three, that seems a stretch but Collingwood has not been convincing in many games this year. Two of their losses to fellow top four sides, that Collingwood just has to be able to beat.
A number of their wins have not been convincing. Still, winning ugly is better than not winning and it shows that Collingwood has a gear or two to change up. Peaking in the first half of the season is not where teams want to be.
What’s gone right?
It all starts with Brodie Grundy – so much first use of the ball from the big hipster to a strong midfield. Some of his ruck work is artwork. Grundy benefits from Cox in the side though. With Cox out for a few weeks and Ben Reid not as compelling as a second ruck, Grundy was looking sore coming into the Queen’s Birthday and lost the one on one to Gawn, and needs more coverage.
The backline has been solid – anchored by Jordan Roughead and with good intercept marking options in the Moore, Howe and the recently injured Langdon. Maynard and Crisp provide good dash and deep forward 50 entries. Levi Greenwood has been good since making his way back into the side and has moved from the midfield although will be slotted back in when required as a run with.
The much vaunted midsize forward line has been good if not great and there is room for improvement. The kicking for goal has been terrible at times with Stephenson and Brody Mihocek the culprits. Nonetheless, the forwards are as deep as the midfield with threatening options everywhere including DeGoey, Stephenson, Mihocek, Elliott, Hoskin Elliot, Thomas and innumerable midfield options.
The Pies’ bat very deep in the mids and they are rarely beaten there. Scott Pendlebury is having a stand out season and it’s great to watch him weaving effortlessly through contests.
Can’t get enough footy? Check out more of our Pinch Hitters Mid Season Report Cards here.
What’s gone wrong?
None of Collingwood’s losses were disastrous and all came after the Magpies had the lead earlier in the game. Having said that, three consecutive losses to the Eagles at the MCG and four in all, has the Eagles looking like something of a bogey team. What has been more concerning is the manner of some of the wins. The St Kilda win came after one good quarter of football. The Carlton win came after about ten good minutes and the Sydney win only locked away after some Dayne Rampe deep thinking.
Collingwood’s injury toll, whilst not as bad as others, has still been covered up by good depth, particularly in the midfield. Taylor Adams and Jamie Elliot have been missing for several weeks now while Dayne Beams has is all but on ice for 2019. Tom Langdon is a big loss in the backline. Jordan DeGeoy, Darcy Moore and Mason Cox have all missed at one point or another which has affected continuity. Cox’s loss is understated, he adds unpredictability to the forward line when he is there and due purely to his size it means Collingwood can get first hands on the ball, be that for a tap or a mark. Collingwood view him highly as seen by the omission of an unfortunate Ben Reid as soon as Cox was fit.
What looks like a career ending injury to Daniel Wells probably the low light of the season.
Stand out player
Easy one really – Brodie Grundy, despite lowering his colours to Max Gawn on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, he remains the most difficult ruckman to match up on with aerial, ground level and clearance skills. He has 85 ground ball gets, equal with Tom Rockliff, and more than Angus Brayshaw. This shows his versatility as he is still second in his primary craft, hit outs, to former Collingwood team mate and man mountain Jarrod Witts.
Special mention to Jordan Roughead. He fell out of favour at the Bulldogs and ended up at Collingwood for pick 78 in the 2018 draft. He has filled the key defensive post with distinction covering the biggest and ugliest forwards going around. Still has work to do with games against GWS (Jeremy Cameron), the Eagles (Josh Kennedy) and Adelaide (Taylor Walker). On current form he’s a threat to all three and a bargain for the Pies.
The run home
It will be a defining second half of the season with the next three games very winnable and could have Collingwood in a very good position. Things tighten up then with away games against West Coast and GWS and Collingwood must win at least one of those to be taken seriously – they need to beat other top four teams. Other tough games against Richmond, who are down now but won’t stay there, and Adelaide who at this stage are on the up and looking like a certainty for top four.
Not putting sides away like a functioning top side should. They are either working their way up through the gears or over performing. Time will tell.