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All Cloke and no stagger

Date

Michael Gleeson

Two on one: Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell is put under pressure by young Bombers Jackson Merrett and Nick O’Brien at ...

Two on one: Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell is put under pressure by young Bombers Jackson Merrett and Nick O’Brien at the MCG last night. Photo: Paul Rovere

COLLINGWOOD 5.5 7.11 10.17 14.20 (104) ESSENDON 4.3 7.3 9.7 10.12 (72)
GOALS Collingwood: Cloke 5, Fasolo 2, Krakouer, Beams, Swan, O'Brien, Shaw, Paine, Goldsack. Essendon: Zaharakis 2, O'Brien 2, Monfries, Heppell, Myers, Watson, Hurley, Crameri. BEST Collingwood: Cloke, Swan, Fasolo, Thomas, Beams, O'Brien, Maxwell, Pendlebury. Essendon: Watson, Heppell, Zaharakis, Hibberd, Hille, Hurley. INJURIES Collingwood: Goldsack (ankle). Essendon: T Bellchambers (ankle) replaced in selected side by Browne.
UMPIRES Donlon, McBurney, Jennings.
CROWD 56,491 at MCG.

THE result Collingwood needed last night was more about the man than the team. Travis Cloke, the man who can guide this team's fortune this month more than any other, unburdened himself to find the sort of form that allows Collingwood to believe.

It was fitting of Collingwood's season that it confirmed a top-four finish with a performance that came close to being good, but was not quite. It had moments of very good and some very ordinary. It was an almost performance. Kick straight and the pieces could be said to have fallen into place, for the attack on the goal was there, but not the execution.

Cale Hooker looks on as Magpies forward Travis Cloke takes a strong mark. Click for more photos

AFL Round 23: Essendon v Collingwood

Collingwood will play off in next weeks qualifying final against Hawthorn after defeated Essendon by 32 points. The Pies will also be delighted with the return to form of Travis Cloke who booted five goals and took 16 marks. Photo: Paul Rovere

What was convincing about them was Cloke. The most important man to Collingwood's September - with Darren Jolly - Cloke rediscovered his form at the 11th hour. Cloke took 16 marks - and more than half of them were contested - illustrating precisely why clubs are contemplating that five-year deal for him. Cloke has taken more than 10 marks in one other game this year - against GWS - so that gives an indication of his performance. He kicked five goals but might have had 10 but for a few misses - at least this time there were no howlers.

There was a dirty intent about Cloke to do well that was evident from the outset. He had 10 marks before half-time. Essendon was only a goal down on Collingwood when coach James Hird shifted his best key tall player, Michael Hurley, who is wearing a plaster cast on a wrist that will require surgery in the next week, from forward to defence. The Bombers were only a goal down but at that point Cloke was double figures for marks and had kicked 3.3. But for a few shots pushed wide he might have had six in a half. Cale Hooker was not the answer.

The idea of Hurley playing on Cloke in the second half might have helped Cloke's confidence because Hurley is a more challenging opponent than Hooker. He did OK on Cloke until the big man slipped away in the last quarter for a couple of strong pack marks and goals.

Collingwood could not hope to win the flag without Cloke playing well. Even though it has the tough task of trying to topple Hawthorn on Friday night, at least the Pies' most important player is back in form. It changes the picture even if there was a scrappiness about Collingwood in other parts of the ground.

Essendon was finding the resolve to keep going in its last game of the year harder as the match wore on. The Dons did not give up but trying was getting harder.

Collingwood, minus Chris Dawes, had to restructure its forward line and ruck division. Last night the Pies sampled a new system that had teenager Jackson Paine playing from the goal square.

At the start of the second quarter Cloke led at the ball and took the mark, towing Hooker to the contest. He did not wait on his kick but turned and booted the ball to the goal square where Paine needed to be. He was. The young forward outpointed Tayte Pears to mark on the goal line and convert. It was an unusual experience for Collingwood of late - one kick to a key forward who marks and kicks long to another key forward who marks and goals.

Jolly was asked to stay on the ground almost throughout the match and the versatile captain Nick Maxwell was asked to assist in the ruck. Collingwood managed to avoid using an alternate ruck at any of the centre bounces but around the ground Maxwell bodied against David Hille. At those stoppages a third man climbed in over the top - normally Scott Pendlebury - to get a hand on the ball.

Andrew Krakouer returned to the side after 27 weeks out with a knee reconstruction and kicked one goal and provided plenty of spark.

Essendon had about it a familiar feel for this season. The Dons began brightly but tired and faded.

They relied heavily on Jobe Watson, while Hille was robust in the centre and Hurley was needed forward and back. They also had earnest contributors in David Zaharakis, Brent Stanton and Dyson Heppell but lacked polish from too many others.

COMEBACK ON CUE

Andrew Krakouer's rehab ran perfectly to script last night. Just six months after having his knee reconstructed he was back on the MCG one week out from the finals. He didn't look like he'd been missing for long, picking up some smart possessions then celebrating his third-quarter set shot, which put the Pies four goals ahead late in the term, with a smile, a fist pump and the attention of almost every teammate, who rushed to him.

MORE BABY BOMBERS

Essendon's season has petered out in a major way, but the Bombers have at least had a small glimpse of the future. Jackson Merrett made his debut, Alex Browne found a bit of the ball after coming on as the sub after coming into the 22 as a late replacement for Tom Bellchambers, and Nick O'Brien also did some good things.

INJURIES TAKE TOLL

It says plenty about Essendon's never-ending injury list that just two players made it from round one through until last night's match. Jake Melksham and Jobe Watson are the only two Bombers to have played all 22 games. Melksham was last night more involved than he has been lately and skipper Watson, well held by Richmond's Daniel Jackson after half-time last week, finished the year in the excellent form he started it in. - EMMA QUAYLE

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AFL 2016

Round 1
Thu, 24 MarTimes shown AEDT
RIC vs CAR 19:20MCG
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
MEL vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
NTH vs ADE 19:25ES
SYD vs COL 19:25ANZ
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
WBU vs FRE 13:10ES
PTA vs STK 15:20Adelaide Oval
WCE vs BRI 19:40Domain Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
GEE vs HAW 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
COL vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs PTA 13:45Adelaide Oval
ESS vs MEL 14:10MCG
BRI vs NTH 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:25ES
FRE vs GCF 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:10SO
HAW vs WCE 15:20MCG
CAR vs SYD 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
PTA vs ESS 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs COL 13:45MCG
RIC vs ADE 14:10ES
SYD vs GWS 16:35SCG
GCF vs CAR 19:25MS
WCE vs FRE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs MEL 13:10BA
WBU vs HAW 15:20ES
GEE vs BRI 16:40SS
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GEE 13:45MCG
HAW vs STK 14:10AS
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
CAR vs WBU 19:25ES
ADE vs SYD 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
GWS vs PTA 13:10SO
COL vs MEL 15:20MCG
NTH vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ADE 19:50MCG
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
SYD vs WCE 13:40SCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs BRI 19:25ES
PTA vs GEE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
STK vs GWS 13:10ES
FRE vs CAR 16:10Domain Stadium
MEL vs RIC 19:10MCG
Mon, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
NTH vs WBU 19:50ES
Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
MEL vs STK 13:45ES
ADE vs FRE 14:10Adelaide Oval
GWS vs HAW 16:35Spotless Stadium
RIC vs PTA 19:25MCG
GEE vs GCF 19:25SS
Sun, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs SYD 13:10G
CAR vs ESS 15:20MCG
WCE vs COL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
GEE vs WCE 14:10SS
SYD vs ESS 16:35ANZ
GCF vs MEL 17:10MS
WBU vs ADE 19:40ES
FRE vs GWS 20:10Domain Stadium
Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
STK vs NTH 15:20ES
PTA vs BRI 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS vs NTH 13:45ES
HAW vs FRE 14:10AS
GWS vs GCF 16:35Spotless Stadium
BRI vs COL 19:25G
RIC vs SYD 19:25MCG
Sun, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:10ES
MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs STK 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs SYD 19:50MCG
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
COL vs GEE 13:45MCG
GCF vs ADE 14:10MS
PTA vs WCE 16:35Adelaide Oval
NTH vs CAR 19:25ES
FRE vs RIC 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
GWS vs WBU 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs ESS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs NTH 19:50SCG
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs HAW 13:45G
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
STK vs FRE 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:25MCG
ADE vs GWS 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GEE 13:10ES
COL vs WBU 15:20MCG
WCE vs GCF 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 03 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs RIC 19:50BA
Sat, 04 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs MEL 13:45MCG
CAR vs BRI 14:10ES
GEE vs GWS 16:35SS
GCF vs SYD 19:25MS
FRE vs ESS 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs PTA 13:10MCG
WBU vs WCE 15:20ES
ADE vs STK 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 10 JunTimes shown AEST
ESS vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 11 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs WBU 13:40Adelaide Oval
BRI vs FRE 16:35G
GEE vs NTH 19:25ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
STK vs CAR 13:10ES
RIC vs GCF 15:20MCG
GWS vs SYD 16:40Spotless Stadium
Mon, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 17 JunTimes shown AEST
NTH vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
BRI vs WCE 13:40G
FRE vs PTA 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs MEL 13:10SCG
ESS vs GWS 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 23 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs NTH 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 24 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs FRE 19:50MCG
Sat, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs BRI 13:40MCG
GWS vs CAR 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs GEE 19:25ES
Sun, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 15:20AS
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 30 JunTimes shown AEST
WCE vs ESS 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
GCF vs STK 13:40MS
SYD vs WBU 16:35SCG
CAR vs COL 19:25MCG
Sun, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs ADE 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Thu, 07 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 08 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs SYD 19:50SS
Sat, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs COL 13:40Spotless Stadium
GCF vs BRI 16:35MS
WBU vs RIC 19:25ES
MEL vs FRE 19:40TIO
Sun, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:10MCG
WCE vs NTH 15:20Domain Stadium
ESS vs STK 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Thu, 14 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs HAW 19:20SCG
Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
FRE vs GEE 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs ESS 13:40MCG
NTH vs PTA 16:35ES
WBU vs GCF 19:25CAZ
ADE vs COL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs WCE 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 15:20ES
BRI vs GWS 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 23 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 13:45ANZ
GCF vs FRE 14:10MS
WCE vs MEL 16:35Domain Stadium
WBU vs STK 19:25ES
GEE vs ADE 19:25SS
Sun, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs BRI 13:10ES
HAW vs RIC 15:20MCG
PTA vs GWS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 29 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 19:50SS
Sat, 30 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs RIC 13:45SO
HAW vs CAR 14:10AS
COL vs WCE 16:35MCG
BRI vs PTA 19:25G
NTH vs STK 19:25ES
Sun, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GCF 13:10MCG
FRE vs SYD 15:20Domain Stadium
ADE vs ESS 16:40Adelaide Oval
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 05 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 06 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 13:45SCG
MEL vs HAW 14:10MCG
GCF vs GWS 16:35MS
WBU vs NTH 19:25ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs STK 13:10MCG
GEE vs ESS 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 12 AugTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 19:50ES
Sat, 13 AugTimes shown AEST
BRI vs CAR 13:45G
HAW vs NTH 14:10MCG
GWS vs WCE 16:35Spotless Stadium
STK vs SYD 19:25ES
PTA vs MEL 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs GCF 13:10ES
RIC vs GEE 15:20MCG
FRE vs ADE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 19 AugTimes shown AEST
WCE vs HAW 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 20 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs SYD 13:45BA
RIC vs STK 14:10MCG
GWS vs FRE 16:35Spotless Stadium
COL vs GCF 19:25ES
PTA vs ADE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
CAR vs MEL 13:10MCG
BRI vs GEE 15:20G
ESS vs WBU 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Sat, 27 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs COL 12:00MCG
STK vs BRI 12:00ES
ESS vs CAR 12:00MCG
GCF vs PTA 12:00MS
SYD vs RIC 12:00SCG
NTH vs GWS 12:00ES
GEE vs MEL 12:00SS
ADE vs WCE 12:30Adelaide Oval
FRE vs WBU 14:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Adelaide Crows 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brisbane Lions 0 0 0 0 - 0
Carlton 0 0 0 0 - 0
Collingwood 0 0 0 0 - 0
Essendon 0 0 0 0 - 0
Fremantle 0 0 0 0 - 0
Geelong Cats 0 0 0 0 - 0
Gold Coast Suns 0 0 0 0 - 0
View all
 

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