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Collingwood missing the scoreboard spread

Standing tall: Magpies rely heavily on Travis Cloke.

Standing tall: Magpies rely heavily on Travis Cloke. Photo: Getty Images

For most of this year, any discussion about Collingwood’s capacity to challenge for the premiership has gone hand-in-hand with the debate about the form of Travis Cloke.

The big power forward was sadly out of sorts early this season, but the last month has seen his renaissance, culminating in bags of six and five goals in the past two games. It's ironic that those 11 goals have coincided with successive defeats for the Magpies - losses that may just spell the end of their top-four hopes.

Collingwood stayed in touch with its regular nemesis most of Saturday afternoon, but Hawthorn’s 11th victory over the Pies in their past 14 clashes provided an interesting contrast in either side’s scoring power.

Average goalkickers per game.

Average goalkickers per game.

Hawthorn’s 17 goals came from 10 different sources - the eighth time in its 13 games this season it has boasted 10 or more individual goalkickers. Collingwood’s 13 goals were kicked by seven players, with Cloke responsible for nearly half.

In its previous loss, to the Western Bulldogs, 10 of the Magpies’ 15 goals came from two players, Cloke and Jamie Elliott.

Big, powerful key forwards are important to any team’s cause, but they have been superseded as a key indicator of success by the ability to generate a healthy spread of scoreboard contributors.

The wrap.

The wrap.

Few statistics in the game correlate as closely with the top of the AFL ladder as does the number of average goalkickers per side. Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney are the top three teams on the chart. Ring a bell?

What’s just as notable is Collingwood’s lowly ranking of 15th, better only than Melbourne and bottom-eight sides Brisbane Lions and St Kilda.

Ladder leader Port Adelaide has the best of both worlds. Its spearhead Jay Schulz leads the Coleman Medal after his eight-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday. But the Power also has another seven players averaging at least a goal a game, and its game average of 8.77 individual goalkickers is behind only Hawthorn, the undisputed masters of the scoring spread.

The flexibility of the Hawks’ forward set-up is again looming as close to their most potent weapon.

Against Collingwood, seven goals came from Jarryd Roughead - last year's Coleman medallist - and Luke Breust - at the moment the best small forward in the game. The other 10 were from Cyril Rioli, Ryan Schoenmakers, Brad Hill, Brad Sewell, Isaac Smith, Jonathon Ceglar, Jack Gunston and Paul Puopolo.

That’s two more small forwards, a classic third tall in Gunston, a pinch-hitter in Schoenmakers, a ruckman and three bona fide midfielders.

For Collingwood at the moment, it’s Cloke and Elliott or bust. Over the last four games, they’ve combined for 51 per cent of the Magpies’ goals. Compare that with Roughead and Breust (35 per cent), Lance Franklin and Adam Goodes for Sydney (36 per cent), or Schulz and Justin Westhoff for Port Adelaide (36 per cent).

Collingwood recruit Jesse White hasn’t yet offered Cloke the meaningful key-position support he needs. But the Magpies aren’t conjuring enough goals from other sources, either.

Skipper Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan aren’t hitting the scoreboard quite as regularly as last year. Neither has Steele Sidebottom, whose recent suspension, along with injuries to Ben Reid and Alex Fasolo, has nibbled away at Collingwood’s goalkicking depth.

The Pies have got more goals out of both Dayne Beams and Luke Ball, but the trade-off for Brent Macaffer’s undoubted run-with ability is a key midfielder who doesn’t trouble the scorers much. Neither do Josh Thomas, Clinton Young, Taylor Adams or Sam Dwyer for that matter.

Collingwood is at its best when it gets plenty of rebound out of defence, something noticeably absent against Hawthorn on Saturday, and clearly affected by the recent absence of Nick Maxwell. That’s had some of the midfielders dropping back more frequently to help deal with the pressure, which provides some explanation.

But the bottom line remains that Collingwood has had more than eight individual goalkickers just once all season - against West Coast in round 10, when it boasted 13.

Cloke only kicked one that day. Indeed, only four of the Magpies’ 17 against the Eagles came from the big men, with 13 shared among nine small forwards or onballers. While West Coast’s Eric Mackenzie was superb on the obvious pea of the Collingwood forward line, the proliferation of little men creeping forward to score was like trying to deal with a mouse plague.

Collingwood could certainly do with that sort of infestation right now. The Magpies have spent much of this season sweating on one man to come good. But the last fortnight has been a sobering reminder that no team’s scoreboard fortunes can revolve around that alone.

And while I'm at it ...

THE EYES DON’T HAVE IT

We’re reminded constantly that even the best technology can’t always guarantee the right results, and two incidents at the weekend seemed to provide more proof .

Ben Howlett’s last quarter checkside snap from hard up against the boundary line for Essendon was a gem. One replay, however, seemed to suggest very strongly, via an apparent deflection, that it had in fact flicked the goalpost on the way through.

On Sunday night at the MCG in the final term, a shot by North Melbourne’s Jack Ziebell seemed to clearly cross the goal line before it was belted back on to the goalpost, two replays confirming that view.

Not in the minds of observers in either case, however, who seemed to see something in the footage few others did. While Howlett’s shot only appeared to deflect slightly and was perhaps understandable, the Ziebell decision appeared just plain wrong.

We’re still short of the sort of technology required to make the review system work more smoothly, and certainly to take less time than did the adjudication on Ziebell’s shot at the MCG. And perhaps we could do with some sharper eyes reviewing what footage does exist, too.

A CONTRAST OF KIDS

Carlton coach Mick Malthouse’s observation last Friday that the Blues’ list was essentially on the right didn’t prove great timing as Carlton was out-run by a Greater Western Sydney which held its nerve and its lead.

That’s four losses on end now for a 4-9 record. But what would worry the Blues more is that unlike the first of that latest string of defeats against Brisbane, this was by no means a shocking performance. Nor, like last week against Hawthorn, simply the gap between where Carlton and the very best are.

In terms of the longer-term future, this was a perfect example of what the Giants can look forward to with so much young talent continuing to improve. And how far Carlton (and the Blues aren’t alone here) might lag behind in terms of quantity and quality of incoming talent over the next few seasons.

AT WITTS END

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley might have seen a potential storm looming when he took to Twitter on Saturday night to apologise for his public berating of ruckman Jarrod Witts on the MCG boundary line.

“Incident with ‘Wittsy’ says more about his coach than the player,” Buckley tweeted. “Still room for challenges to be laid in this game but too overt today.”

Nice gesture by the coach, but was it really required? The only difference between what Buckley did and what most other coaches do at some stage in a season was to grab Witts by the jumper. Witts’ much-improved final term would suggest it had the right impact, too.

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102 vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108 vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW vs GCF 13:45AS
MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
RIC vs ESS 19:20MCG
ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI vs STK 13:10G
COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
WCE vs GEE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE vs MEL 15:20SS
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
BRI vs ADE 16:35G
STK vs WBU 19:20ES
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR vs GCF 15:20ES
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
BRI vs SYD 16:40G
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL vs BRI 13:10MCG
PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
BRI vs WBU 00:00G
PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
View all
 
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