Preview: Collingwood v St Kilda, take two
Will BrodieSeptember 24, 2010
Magpie forward Chris Dawes has plenty of company as he tries to take a mark. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Collingwood v St Kilda
MCG Saturday 2 October, 2.30pm
Last time: Grand final, MCG, Saturday 25 September. Collingwood 4.2, 7.8, 7.13, 9.14 (68) drew with St Kilda 3.2, 4.2, 7.5, 10.8 (68)
St Kilda's Steve Baker is tackled by Collingwood's Nick Maxwell. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Past five: Collingwood 1.5, St Kilda 3.5
Past ten: Collingwood 4.5 St Kilda 5.5
Recent form: Collingwood 3-1-1, 8-1-1; St Kilda 3-1-1, 5-3-2
Record overall: Collingwood 150, St Kilda 57, draw 2
At this ground: Collingwood 12.5, St Kilda 9.5
In the 2000s: Collingwood 9, St Kilda 8
Betting: Collingwood $1.60 St Kilda $2.35
TV: Channel Seven live
Radio: ABC774, SEN, Triple M, 3AW
B: Nick Maxwell, Simon Prestigiacomo, Alan Toovey
HB: Harry O'Brien, Ben Reid, Heath Shaw
C: Sharrod Wellingham, Dane Swan, Ben Johnson
HF: Alan Didak, Travis Cloke, Luke Ball
F: Dayne Beams, Chris Dawes, Steele Sidebottom
Foll: Darren Jolly, Scott Pendlebury, Dale Thomas
I/C: Tyson Goldsack, Jarryd Blair, Leigh Brown, Brent Macaffer,
Emg: Simon Prestigiacomo, Tarkyn Lockyer,John McCarthy
In: Tyson Goldsack
Out: Leon Davis
B: Jason Gram, Zac Dawson, Sam Gilbert
HB: Jason Blake, Sam Fisher, Robert Eddy
C: Brendon Goddard, Nick Dal Santo, Farren Ray
HF: Brett Peake, Justin Koschitzke, Leigh Montagna
F: Adam Schneider, Nick Riewoldt, Stephen Milne
Foll: Ben McEvoy, Lenny Hayes, Clinton Jones
I/C: Sean Dempster, Andrew McQualter, James Gwilt, Steven Baker
Emg: Jarryn Geary, Jack Steven, Rhys Stanley
In: Ben McEvoy
Out: Michael Gardiner
Last time: Collingwood made a late change to exclude veteran full-back Simon Prestigiacomo, who reported groin soreness after the final training session. Tyson Goldsack was the unlucky Magpie, dropped to make way for small forward Leon Davis. There were no surprises at selection for the Saints.
Why Collingwood will win
In the first grand final, Collingwood had most of their best players down on their best form, and still managed to threaten to blow away St Kilda, then hang tough when headed. They have had a week to examine the defensive ploys of St Kilda, and fine-tune the forward thrusts which came unstuck first time around. The younger Magpies now have the confidence of having survived an intensely pressurised grand final, and will play with more freedom in the rematch. Tweak the use of the ball going forward, get greater input from stars such as Alan Didak, Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Sharrod Wellingham and Harry O'Brien, and the Magpies will fashion a winning score. St Kilda has fired its best shots tactically, has several players under injury clouds, and has lost its number one ruckman. If the Magpies get more output from their skilled perrformers, and convert better during their dominant periods, they should kick a winning score. Put simply, they have more scope for improvement from the first game than the Saints.
How it might happen: take last week's game, and turn the 3.6 kicked by the Magpies in the second quarter into 5.4. In the third quarter, with a lead of over five goals, Collingwood resists St Kilda, and ekes out the first couple of goals. Six or seven goals down, tired, and playing some senior players with suspect fitness, the Saints simply cannot muster a big enough comeback.
Why St Kilda will win
St Kilda has all the momentum, and have thrived on their supposed underdog status and second-half grand final comeback to further reinforce the bunker mentality that has served them so well during a testing season. The Magpies have no-one to stop the rampant Lenny Hayes and Brendon Goddard, and it is impossible to expect green young backman Nathan Brown to again restrict superstar forward Nick Riewoldt. The Saints have re-established their mystical defensive hold over Collingwood, reducing their opposing forwards to jittery inaccuracy. Their marginally superior zone and individual defensive brilliance overcomes any deficiencies in class on the fringes of their list. Simply put, St Kilda will not need many scoring opportunities to win this, because they will again stop Collingwood from kicking goals.
How it might happen: Now a wake-up to Collingwood's early game onslaught, the Saints go straight back to their clamping stoppage-heavy pressure, and make it impossible for the Magpies to score goals. In front on the scoreboard, they soak up Magpie attacks, happy to occasionally penetrate on the rebound. Their superior experience, strength and scoring efficiency comes to the fore, and by late in the second quarter, or mid-way through the third, they have the game under their control. Masters of keepings-off, the Saints hold the Magpies at arm's length until their young opponents are strangled out of the contest.
What we think
Collingwood shows no signs of improving its efficiency up forward, which means it can butcher an oppponent like St Kilda for entire quarters without gaining much scoreboard benefit. St Kilda is too resilient to crack when it is being bombarded, and its genius defence will again make every Magpie kick at goal a test of nerve. These games are being played on Ross Lyon's terms - low-scoring, with plentiful stoppages. Collingwood is good at that style of game, but St Kilda is better, particularly because their best players thrive in the trenches, and in Nick Riewoldt, they have the most dynamic key forward in the game. Unless the Pies can match St Kilda's intensity, and be smarter in their forward half, as they were in their round 16 triumph over the Saints, the more experienced, more miserly Saints could win this game with a brief blitz. And if the young Pies are as tired as they looked in the last quarter of the first grand final, don't be surprised if the margin opens up by game's end.
St Kilda by 30 points
Look out for
Collingwood's ball use: The intense midfield pressure applied by both teams made kicking into the forward line haphazard in the first grand final. Collingwood must get the ball into the hands of elite ball-users like Alan Didak, or their forwards will again have to fight crowds, and the remarkable abilities of Sam Fisher, in order to get clear-cut scoring chances.
Tactical changes: The St Kilda brains trust had to make changes in the first half of the grand final, and they all worked. Now that Sam Gilbert has gone forward once, will he do so again? Now that Farren Ray has quelled the influence of Dane Swan around the ground, will he be assigned the Magpie ball magnet from the start of the game, or will he go back to wing to combat in-form Pie star Dale Thomas? If so, what is the role for overawed Saint speedster Brett Peake, the Sainter surprise packet of earlier finals? Justin Koschitzke looked more useful in the ruck - does he start there in order to gain some confidence and shake the attentions of Magpie backman Ben Reid? Collingwood must consider whether Luke Ball needs more in-and-under assistance from Jarryd Blair in the clinches. If the inexperienced nugget goes back to more familiar climes around the packs, perhaps a taller lead-up option can be used at halff-forward, in an attempt to create space when Collingwood attacks. The Magpies have versatility in their midfield rotations, but look less likely to make major structural addjustments. Perhaps the uncanny Swan will spend some time up forward. He is a strong mark, and has a knack of being in the right time for goalscoring opportunities. Despite their emphasis on teamwork, the Pies must get more out of more individuals. That will be less a case of tactics than mental readiness.
Nick Riewoldt: The iconic Saints key forward was a good contributoor in the grand final, but did not dominate Magpie greenhorn Nathan Brown as expected, and was even outmarked a couple of times. He is ready to explode on a warm sunny day at the MCG. At some stage, these two sets of warriors will have to slow down, after two brutal games full of tackling, chasing and running, and space will open up for the first time. When that happens, St Kilda knows its superstar will get opportunities in that space, and its forward line will be transformed.
Sharrod Wellingham. One of the Magpie midfield armada who had little impact last week, the nimble right-footer appears to be still battling an ankle injury. If he can get hold of the ball more, and use it with some dash and flair, especially forward of centre, the Magpies will look a much more potent force.
Zac Dawson. Smashed for a half by Travis Cloke during the teams' round three clash earlier this year, Dawson was outstanding last week on the Magpie talls. If he and James Gwilt continue to help close down Chris Dawes and Travis Cloke, the Magpies must rely on midfielders and defensive forwards to cobble together a winning score.
Dayne Beams. Had a tough job in a chaotic forward line last week, but is capable of better. Needs to read when to lead and when to go back into the packs and become a scoring threat. Another player who might benefit from more of a run in the centre square.
Steven Baker. After 13 weeks between games, Baker stood up well in the St Kilda backline. How he handles playing a second game off such intensity, when he is likely to be isolated more often, could determine whether St Kilda's mastery of Collingwood's forwards continues.