mattys123′s Round 14 – Collingwood vs Fremantle Match Preview

Jun 22nd, 2016 | By | Category: AFL Match Preview

2016r14hockersJust when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. Collingwood went into it’s annual Queen’s birthday clash with Melbourne knowing that anything less than a win would effectively end their finals chances. By half time it was clear those hopes were dashed as Melbourne led by over 4 goals before running away with a 46 point victory. It was the first time that Collingwood had lost to Melbourne twice in one season in 28 years and leaves the Magpies in 14th spot with a 4-8 win/loss record. The most shocking part so far though has been the way the Pies have lost their games, losing by an average of 44.4 points. Injuries are being used as the main excuse at the moment but when you’re losing that big, there’s more problems than just injuries.

There are still 10 matches left in the 2016 season for Collingwood though, and somehow they have to salvage something out of their third disappointing season in a row. It starts on Friday night, as the Magpies coming off a bye play host to Fremantle. The Dockers started the season in terrible fashion, losing their first 10 games. Since then though they’ve come back to form with 3 wins in row leaving them just one win, and one spot behind Collingwood on the ladder. In fact if Fremantle win this game they will go ahead of Collingwood for the first time this season, despite that disastrous start.

These two sides rarely clash twice in one season so previous form between them isn’t clear, but the Dockers have won the last three games over the Pies, including a 7 point win at home last year.



Anyone could write several articles about what’s gone wrong with Collingwood this season and still you may not be able explain the full extent of the problems, so instead let’s look at some of the positives so far. Adam Treloar and Scott Pendlebury are a good place to start, with the star midfield duo ranking 4th and 9th respectively for average possessions this season (league wide). Pendlebury had to fight through injury early in the season so his numbers are even more impressive. Mason Cox, wow, what a story he has been. The 25 year old American has been a revelation to the point where he is now the main focus of the Pies forward line. Yes that’s mainly due to others missing through injury, but with 13 goals in 8 games while also providing valuable ruck support, Cox has been one of the very few successes this season for Collingwood. There are some other good signs, with Ben Reid and Jeremy Howe forming a strong partnership across half back being one of them. There really aren’t many more though, as with the Pies using 38 players this year so far, there hasn’t been a consistency of games for most of the playing list.

So we come to round 14, with Collingwood sitting in 14th and facing a tough run home with only 2 sides sitting behind them still to come. The game against Fremantle is crucial though, it can form a springboard into a positive second half of the season and as always, selection will be important. The club got selection wrong versus Melbourne, that’s pretty clear now, with the three genuine ruckman selected yet Max Gawn still had a field day. At least one of the trio of Grundy, Cox and Witts will be omitted this week especially with Fremantle missing their own behemoth in Aaron Sandilands. In regards to who comes in there’s some experience and youth that is pushing for selection this week. The VFL side is on fire, having won it’s past 4 games, with the likes of Cloke, Brown, Goldsack, Macaffer, Wills, Aish and Oxley all playing well at that level. Surely there comes a time when you have to bring back some of those experienced players to provide leadership and support to a young senior side. That time might be this week.

The Magpies may just be playing out the season now, but with an army of fans, sponsors, partners and the pressure from the media, this Collingwood side can’t just fade slowly into the dark. It’s likely to be a wet, cold and windy Friday night at the MCG which means effort may decide this game, something has been missing in every one of the Collingwod losses in season 2016. If they bring a strong, desired effort though they can win this game and get some respect back.




What a strange season it’s been for the Fremantle Dockers. After playing finals in 5 of the last 6 seasons, including one minor premiership and a grand final appearance, they started the 2016 season with 10 straight losses. Wow, just wow. Yes there were injuries, and some major ones too with superstars Aaron Sandilands and Nathan Fyfe both going down, but to lose 10 games straight to start a season was just plain weird, and shocking. Something has changed recently though, and with confidence boosting wins over lowly Essendon and Brisbane, the Dockers were back to their old selves again as they hosted Port Adelaide last Saturday. It truly was the Dockers of old as they out pressured and out worked the Power to come away with a 17 point win. Like the Pies, there will be no finals for Fremantle this season, but unlike Collingwood it would seem they are going to finish the season quite strong.

With all the injuries they have, it’s hard to find an area of strength for this current Dockers team, but they midfield did hold it’s own against Port last week, so that’s a starting point. Lachie Neale has been a revelation this year, leading the AFL for average possessions per game. Neale, in the absence of Fyfe, Sandilands and several others has helped the Dockers remain competitive at times, until he got some help. That help has come in the form of a rejuvenated Michael Barlow. Barlow was omitted from the team a few weeks back yet since his return he’s been his old self. Barlow had 43 possessions last week in the win over Port and will thrive in the forecast conditions on Friday. Zac Clarke is doing an adequate job as fill in ruckman while Sandilands recovers, although the Dockers, once a leading team for hitouts, now sit only 8th on that tally. They face off this Friday against a Collingwood midfield that relies heavily on 2 players, and if you can restrict either of those two, it will go a long way to Fremantle dominating in this area.

The Dockers forward line has always been one of concern for the club, with many blaming it for their inability to win the big games in recent seasons. Matthew Pavlich, in what is probably the final season of a great career, is still the main focus point. Fremantle also have a few dangerous small and medium forwards, with Ballantyne, Walters and Mayne still producing goals. Finding that elusive tall forward has been a struggle though, with Matthew Taberner the most popular choice in that role at the moment. He only averages 1.3 goals a game though so it’s an area that still needs development. The backline they will face off against is one of the worst in the AFL at the moment, which should provide plenty of opportunities for the Dockers forwards to score.

The Fremantle backline has always relied on a team mentality when it comes to defense more than a reliance on individuals. That has continued on in season 2016 and while they were conceding big scores early on over the past 3 weeks the Dockers have returned to their restrictive best, only allowing an average of 8 goals against them during their resurgence. The likes of Dawson, Hill and Mundy are still main stays of this defense but there has been some fresh blood introduced lately. Sam Collins looks to have a very promising future as does Darcy Tucker. But they still rely on the midfield and in some cases the forwards providing a team defense that helps the backline out. Like Collingwood’s backline, their forward line is missing many of it’s best players also, so that makes the task of Fremantle’s team defense being effective for a fourth week in a row a lot easier.

Fremantle go into this game in the best form they’ve been in all season. After three morale boosting wins in a row, they travel to Melbourne for a rare Friday night game at the MCG. The players and coaching staff will see it as a big game indeed. Ross Lyon sprung a surprise on Wednesday by not only confirming that Matthew Pavlich will play but by also naming the final selection for his side. The only change, as some expected, will be Hannath back into the side for the injured Smith. While Freo do have a long and talented injury list at the moment, they run into a side with maybe a longer one, which should see them go in with some confidence.



It’s round 14, Friday night at the MCG and Collingwood are hosting Fremantle. Pre season most would have thought that this would be a massively important game with finals and maybe even top 4 connotations. But no, it’s 14th versus 15th and it’s really a game about getting some pride and respect back. Fremantle go into the game in better form, much better form in fact and therefore deserve to start as favourites.

The relative injury lists almost cancel each other out with a plethora of talented players missing with short and long term injuries. Eventually, this game will come down to who wants it more. It’s likely to be low scoring giving the conditions forecast, and with the way Fremantle defends 10-12 goals may win you this game. I think that favours Collingwood actually, as they have had trouble scoring so a real scrap might see them come away with a victory in a tight game.




Pre match Discussion Thread  on the BB – Round 14 – Collingwood vs Fremantle - All comments

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