JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Pies docked and decked in first round

Got you: Collingwood’s Brent Macaffer wraps up Docker big man Aaron Sandilands.

Got you: Collingwood’s Brent Macaffer wraps up Docker big man Aaron Sandilands. Photo: Pat Scala

Collingwood will win a premiership within the three-year life of coach Nathan Buckley’s contract, according to its chief executive Gary Pert.

On the evidence of the first match of the season, his opposing coach Ross Lyon may not require that long. Lyon’s Fremantle side looks very, very likely to be there again this year and on the evidence of this game looks better equipped when it does get there.

The evidence of this first match also suggested this was not the side Buckley would expect to win a flag with.

Michael Johnson gets his kick away despite pressure from Jack Frost. Click for more photos

AFL Collingwood v Fremantle

Round 1 AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium. Photos by Pat Scala 

Q4 29:05
Collingwood versus Fremantle
View Match Statistics
Players Young (1.1), Elliott (1.0), Macaffer (1.0), Pendlebury (1.0), Swan (1.0), Sidebottom (0.3), Ball (0.1), Beams (0.1), Grundy (0.1), Sinclair (0.1), Witts (0.1) Scorers Ballantyne (3.1), Walters (2.2), Pearce (2.1), Crowley (2.0), Mundy (2.0), Pavlich (1.4), Fyfe (1.1), Hill (1.1), Barlow (1.0), Mzungu (1.0), Sheridan (1.0), Mayne (0.2)

This was a match that always favoured the side that played in last year’s grand final, but selection made a certainty of that. Buckley would not expect to beat many sides, let alone win a flag, without a functioning forward or back line.

Ben Reid and Jesse White coming back in, Marley Williams potentially returning, Alex Fasolo, Paul Seedsman and Josh Thomas coming in, along with the Magpies’ first-round draft picks will no doubt make them better. Surely Lachie Keeffe would also find one of the key defensive posts.  But that is later: right now they look terrible.

Twelve unanswered goals. An hour of play between scoring a goal. Booting just three goals for three quarters yet conceding goals with a speed that out-paced even last year.  An uncountable number of fumbles. Tackles broken more often than they stuck. Missing four times as many shots at goal as hitting. Suffice to say it was not the best first game.

Five goals is the equal-lowest Collingwood goal tally since 2007 – the two previous miserly matches were also against teams coached by Lyon.

Having spoken of spending the summer doing more goalkicking than of wanting to improve accuracy by 10per cent on last year, Collingwood revealed it still has ample work to do.

For a quarter, Collingwood went frenetically about its business, releasing a summer of expectation and offering the Dockers a comparable game of brutal hardness. The Pies led at quarter time by a point.

But they could not sustain it. Not when Fremantle’s midfield got on top and the back line was assailed. A back line that boasted Jack Frost in his fourth game, Tom Langdon in his first, Ben Sinclair in his first game as a defender, and Nick Maxwell playing in his last season of games.

Not when they played a game that offered those raw defenders so little help. Twice Fremantle moved the ball uninterrupted goal-to-goal.

The goal kicked by Ryan Crowley – who did a good job on Scott Pendlebury – when he was able to mark in the goal square in the third term was a case in point. By this time the match was safely over as the Dockers had already kicked 11 unanswered goals, but this one not only reinforced victory, it reinforced a difference.

The ball had begun with a boundary kick in at the Fremantle half-back line. Every player was ahead and down the wing, so the play was transferred predictably across half-back, where Michael Johnson was able to sag away and run unchallenged, patiently find a teammate who just as patiently found Crowley, who was able to find space. There was no evident plan to run to fill space and combat the obvious attack.

 This was the Fremantle slow attack. Broadly it moved the ball far more quickly than last year, aware of the criticism that its game lacks the firepower to be ultimately successful.  

Nat Fyfe turned the game in the second quarter and despite being subbed out in the last quarter, was best on ground. Quite who was playing on Stephen Hill remains a mystery, no one seemed to have the stomach for the odious responsibility. Danyle Pearce ensured Marty Clarke was given the red vest, Tendai Mzungu and David Mundy made Collingwood’s midfield look small.

9 comments so far

  • Outplayed & exposed. The dismantling to rebuild will only be worth the pain if they win a flag in the next 3 years - if they don't it's going to get pretty ugly in Pie country. Well done to Freo on bouncing back after the disappointment of losing the granny, particularly Ballers who copped a fair smacking from various media idiots during the week who ( as usual) ended up with egg on their faces!

    Date and time
    March 15, 2014, 12:11PM
    • It was pretty obvious how the game would pan out 10 minutes into the second quarter. The Magpies are slow and their kicking is getting worse every year. As a coach, Buckley would make a good statistician or sports commentator. Eddie has a lot to answer for as Buckley is out coached almost every week. To give Buckley a two year extension on his contract was madness and a case off throwing good money after bad. An extension of his contract won't stop speculation as the club loses matches. He has taken the club down the ladder each year and this year we will finish outside the 8.

      Date and time
      March 15, 2014, 1:17PM
      • I don't get it. Every game I saw Freemantle play last year, Fyfe was absolutely brilliant. A consistent standout. Hardly got a mention back then. Last night he plays one good quarter and it seems the whole media reckon he's BOG??? In an obviously even team effort I thought Mzumgu, and in particular, McPharlin were standouts.

        Date and time
        March 15, 2014, 1:26PM
        • A lovely start to the weekend

          Date and time
          March 15, 2014, 2:04PM
          • Buckley......full support of the board?

            Date and time
            March 15, 2014, 2:55PM
            • Like seriously, how many more years of excuses are we going to have to put up with from Buckley (and the rest of them). I'd swap Bucks for any of the other current AFL coaches, but he is an old time Collingwood great, so maybe we should extend his contract a little bit more so he can have a golden handshake before we let him go?!? Obviously this is Collingwoods secret A plan.

              The boy who cried wolf
              Planet Earth
              Date and time
              March 15, 2014, 3:11PM
              • ColinWoodn'ts are a joke and a rabble! Even Melbourne has won more premierships than the Cold Pies after 1958. The Woodn'ts have BUCKLEYS chance of winning the premiership and they won't make the 8! They should merge with GWS and be renamed Greater Collingwooden Spoons!

                Basil Fawlty
                Fawlty Towers
                Date and time
                March 15, 2014, 3:30PM
                • Slow your roll people. Its round 1.

                  Date and time
                  March 16, 2014, 12:33AM
                  • Yep, you Vics just keep thinking that Freo made the GF by some fluke last year. Stefy's right - McPharlin is probably the most underrated player in the AFL. Great team effort Dockers!

                    Date and time
                    March 16, 2014, 3:23PM

                    Make a comment

                    You are logged in as [Logout]

                    All information entered below may be published.

                    Error: Please enter your screen name.

                    Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

                    Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

                    Error: Please enter your comment.

                    Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

                    Post to

                    You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

                    Thank you

                    Your comment has been submitted for approval.

                    Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

                    Related Coverage

                    Follow Us on Facebook

                    Featured advertisers