In a tradition stretching back to 2009, me and my granddad made the trek to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch the Western Bulldogs (my team) take on Collingwood (his team).
Weeks ago, I would have taken this as an easy win for the Bulldogs, a way to boost our percentage, but recent games have changed that perspective. The Bulldogs, the week before, had lost to the GWS Giants, and looked uninspired. The Giants simply had our mettle.
Collingwood, meanwhile, were coming off a comfortable victory over flag fancies Geelong, and their supporters were quietly confident. This game would tell us a lot about the two teams.
Some of you may remember my report for the pre-season game between these two clubs, where I described dozens and dozens of turnovers. One would hope that the ensuing months would have helped these two teams, and there would be a more refined, sleeker feel to the contest.
The Bulldogs snaffled a goal in the first minute, but Collingwood replied early on through Alex Fasolo. From this start, the game was heading for a high-scoring clash.
Sadly, these early goals were aberrations. After two goals in the first four minutes, there were five in the next forty. There should have been a lot more, but a combination of lots of turnovers and abominable kicking from Collingwood (1.6 for the second quarter) kept scores low, and Collingwood were just five points up at half time.
By all rights, the Magpies should have had the game dead and buried at this point. Despite the statistical evenness, Collingwood was far superior, easily cutting off the Bulldogs’ attacks, and going forward countless times. The problem was the delivery into the forward line. Easton Wood took 13 marks, with a significant portion of those turnovers. And when they did take it up forward, their kicking was shocking. In fact, not long into the third quarter, the Magpies were 4.8.
Despite all this, after Ben Crocker scored midway through the second term, Collingwood was fifteen points up, the biggest margin of the game to that point, and looked like they were home.
Alas, two minutes after this goal, Alex Fasolo injured a shoulder and had to go off. This, along with a concussion for Alan Toovey and Taylor Adams doing his hamstring, meant Collingwood was down to one man on the bench.
Fasolo’s goal was the last but one Collingwood scored. Marcus Bontempelli and Luke Dahlhaus scored twice, to keep the Bulldogs within a goal at three-quarter time. When Josh Dunkley kicked another early in the last, the Bulldogs led for the first time since the third minute. A bit of brilliance from Adam Trevor gave Collingwood the lead again, but Tory Dickson, Easton Wood, Matthew Suckling and Jack Redpath kicked four goals as the Bulldogs broke away.
The game ended in a Bulldogs victory, but the injuries to Collingwood players mean the result will continue to hurt for a while.
In this game, you could really see how much the return of Matthew Boyd, Suckling, and Marcus Adams meant for the Dogs. Had those three not been there, the game would likely have been a black and white victory. A bigger test of the Bulldogs’ ability will come next week against West Coast.
COLLINGWOOD 3.1 4.7 6.8 7.11.53
W BULLDOGS 3.0 4.2 6.5 11.8.74
Goalscorers: Collingwood: Moore 2, Fasolo, Pendlebury, Crocker, Blair, Treloar. W Bulldogs: Dunkley 2, Dickson 2, Redpath 2, Campbell, Dahlhaus, Bontempelli, Wood, Suckling
- 3: Easton Wood (W Bulldogs)
- 2: Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
- 1: Luke Dahlhaus (W Bulldogs)