The stats don’t lie. Collingwood played like a bottom-four side on Saturday night as they went down to West Coast by 49 points. The Magpies only managed 33 inside 50s, less than half that Carlton managed during their simultaneous loss to the Gold Coast Suns. Their forward structure was non-existent as the tall duo of Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes once again failed to contribute.
Admittedly, signs for Collingwood were good early as they got out to an early lead, taking a two-goal margin into the first break. However, from there the game was turned around by sheer dominance. West Coast delivered with run and carry. The Eagles dominated the stoppages with Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui smashing Dawes and Cameron Wood. Daniel Kerr delivered one of his best games since his near-Brownlow years, racking up 36 touches, 12 clearances and a goal as West Coast turned the midfield contest on its head.
Partly, this was Collingwood’s fault. The Magpies failed to score a goal in the second term despite locking it in scoring areas for almost ten minutes. At a point where a steadying goal was required after West Coast had scored the first two goals of the second quarter, the Pies came up short. In and of itself, such a thing is concerning for Collingwood in September.
What was more worrying though, was a patch in the last quarter where the ball stayed in Collingwood’s defensive 50. The Pies would run it to around 30m out from the Eagles goal and kick long to the wing, where an Eagle would contest or mark and promptly sending it straight back in at them. There were constantly West Coast players on both wings just waiting for the Collingwood boundary play. The Pies looked predictable and generally poor as their kickout strategy had been discovered and thus sent straight back at them.
The signs are good for West Coast. Josh Kennedy returned and found some touch, their ruck duo looks ominous and their defence is as good as ever. Collingwood, on the other hand, look set to struggle in September, with their forwards struggling and injury taking its toll.
West Coast face Hawthorn at the MCG next Friday, while Collingwood take on Essendon at the MCG next Saturday night.
West Coast: Kerr, Cox, Naitanui, Shuey, Priddis, Butler, Gaff, Selwood
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Swan, Fasolo
West Coast: Shuey 2, Kerr, Naitanui, Hurn, Butler, A.Selwood, Kennedy, Darling, Masten, Hill, Cox, Embley, Gaff, Schofield
Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Goldsack, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Beams, Blair
40,527 at Paterson’s Stadium