Friday, September 08, 2006

Round 21

The Old Blue Stager Report

Collingwood 156 d. Carlton 112

This match eventually unfolded as expected, but with some interesting diversions along the way. Carlton opened brightly and controlled general play while achieving a modest score-board advantage during one and a half quarters. The turning point was Didak's hit on Scotland, which removed Carlton's best player from the action, and turned the Blueboys feral.

The umpires also made their own mark during these key minutes. Immediately after the incident, Carlton broke away to achieve the greatest lead of the game 23 points. However, the Blues' players determination to "fly the flag" or whatever cliche is apposite, saw Collingwood achieve two goals without the ball being returned to the centre. This followed a behind by Didak, which led to some argy-bargy between him and Whitnall. Result, a gifted goal to Collingwood, when the free-kick was given in the goal-square, as the ball had not been returned to play. Another border skirmish ended with a dive by Holland which would have made an Italian soccer striker proud, and another goal. These were the first two of a six-goal run by the Magpies, which effectively ended the contest, although Carlton managed to remain within two or three goals until late in the third quarter.

Collingwood kicked the last five goals of the game (Carlton were goalless throughout the final quarter) to run out comfortable and deserved winners. There were some promising signs for the Blues early, with the organisation of the centre square markedly better than usual. Neither side flooded, and this allowed some marking contests as well as fleet-footed movement out of defence. Carlton's ball use was rather better than usual, although as fatigue set in, Collingwood were able to exploit this deficiency in the Blues armoury. Collingwood is fortunate in the precision of its key players' kicking.

Simpson was again superb for the Blues as a running defender, who often linked up in the midfield. Scotland, apart from his enforced absence for most of the second quarter, was again very effective. Lappin, Carrazzo, Houlihan and Waite contributed for most of the afternoon.