Game Day Grand Final Replay: West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies - 27/03/2020 - 7:30pm - 7Mate

Big Cox 88

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 1, 2010
AFL Club
West Coast
Other Teams
AC Milan, Chelsea
Let's relive the joy of 2018 and follow on "live" tonight at 7:30. The next best thing to live footy is watching glorious replays of the Eagles. I have copy and pasted the original preview below.

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Not the matchup we expected, but is it the matchup we deserve?

By any preseason measure this wasn't the Grand Final matchup anyone expected with both sides widely predicted to miss finals altogether and the common view was everything would need to go right for us and the Pies just to make an appearance in September let alone do any damage. Yet here we are.

Here we ******* are. Let that sink in.

With a glut of retirements (Priddis, Butler, Mitchell, Petrie, Giles and Brophy) and something a list cleanout (Hill, Wellingham, Tunbridge, Lamb, Snadden and Gorter) to end a 2017 season that again culminated in a disappointing finals exit at the hands of GWS - albeit after a pulsating after the siren extra time win over Port Adelaide - West Coast were tipped to be entering something of a rebuild.

Preseason signs weren't promising as doubts over the timing and effectiveness of Naitanui's return and the inability of Kennedy to return to training with some sort of lower leg injury dominated discussion. Successive thumpings at the hands of our neighbour down the road seemed only to highlight the lack of quality depth and raise question marks on the youth to whom we'd be turning to fill the void left by the 2017 departures. Whilst a wooden spoon prediction was remarkably silly given some of the other basket cases in the league, tipping the Eagles to slide out of finals was entirely reasonable

Our 2018 season got under way with the opening of our spectacular new home ground against old adversary the Sydney Swans. On face value a 29 point loss wouldn't offer much hope but that masked the fact the margin blew out thanks to 3 late goals (including a ridiculous double goal, thanks green maggot) and we were on the wrong end of an 8 goal Buddy masterclass. There was a lot to like - we fought back after looking in danger of being blown away at half time, Nicnat returned without missing a beat and was the catalyst behind a stunning 3rd quarter fightback that brought the crowd to it's feet and our 3 debutants (Waterman, Ryan and Venables) all showed promise.

That would be our only loss before the mid season bye as we went on a 10 game winning streak to hit halfway at an impressive 10-1. Darling was in the best form of his career, Kennedy was back kicking goals, Naitanui was at times frightening as he terrorised opponents in tandem with a similarly rejuvenated Lycett, Lecras had turned back the clock and other favourite whipping boys like Masten, Redden, Jetta and Cripps were contributing as well as they ever had. Hurn was leading magnificently and developing into an AA calibre captain. Rioli, Petrucelle and Ainsworth all made their AFL debuts bringing our 2018 tally of debutants to 6 (Brander and Oallen would eventually bring that to 8 for the season).

Questions on our finals credentials still remained however, most notably our ability to beat a big side at the MCG. Those questions only grew as a post bye form slump took hold amongst a growing injury list. Darling suffered an all too common ankle injury against St Kilda in our last game before the bye (joining Ryan and Venables with that ailment) whilst Kennedy copped another leg injury in our game against Sydney immediately after the bye. A 3 game losing streak (Sydney, Essendon, Adelaide) was snapped with a stirring come from behind home win against a similarly injury ravaged GWS

We were back, or were we? Kennedy and Darling finally returned to the side for our big test - an in form Collingwood at the MCG coming off 7 consecutive wins. Surely a win would remove any remaining doubts and stamp us as a genuine contender. History will show we ran out convincing 35 point winners but, and it was a huge but, Naitanui went down with an injury to his "good" knee which ultimately consign him to a second knee reconstruction. One question answered but an even bigger one raised as every one pondered how we'd cope without our talisman to power a rejuvenated midfield.

In the aftermath, a media shitstorm erupted thanks to an altercation between eagles staff and a handful of cameraman as the club tried to whisk their shattered champion through the airport away from the glare of the media. That little spat became a full blown dumpster fire after Gaff uncharacteristically shattered the jaw of Freo youngster Andrew Brayshaw in an, until then, uneventful derby as the eagles cruised to a comfortable win. Not since the drug saga that engulfed the club in 2007 was the club put under so much pressure as the door was flung open to a wave a built up hostility from the media headlined by a "Weak Coast Eagles" frontpage in the West Australian and Basils "Culture of Arrogance" question during a normally routine fluff interview with Adam Simpson. Gaff would receive a suspension that ruled him out of the remainder of 2018 and then some which most saw as a fatal blow to our flag hopes.

Yet here we ******* are!

For their part Collingwood have overcome their own fair share of obstacles in 2018. Set aside the annual cries about Collingwoods MCG-centric schedule and lack of travel they've endured an injury list that would make most clubs wilt and that in prior years they haven't been able to absorb. Nathan Buckley entered 2018 on the frontline of betting as coach most likely to be sacked after several sub par years of repeatedly driving the Ferrari he was handed the keys to into a brick wall because he didn't like the colour. An off season of self reflection and club review sees him end 2018 as the AFLCA coach of the year and his side in a GF. Unequivocally they've earned their spot.

In a relatively lacklustre finals series one game stands out for its quality - the Qualifying Final between West Coast and Collingwood. It should also be pointed out that these sides play close finals. There's been a single blowout (Pies by 59 in the 1990 QF replay) in the previous 7 finals matchups with no other result in excess of 20 points. Twice the teams couldn't be separated at the end of regular time.

So it might not be the matchup the feelgood narratives craved but maybe, just maybe, it'll be the absorbing contest the last day deserves.

Bring it on - Gameday

Despite injury clouds to McGovern and Howe, both sides are anticipated to go in unchanged meaning it'll be the same 44 from the QF taking the field. Neither side will hold any secrets (or fears) for the other. The game will be decided by Collingwood's ability to take sufficient advantage of their edge between the arcs to counteract the edge West Coast hold at each end. In the previous two encounters in 2018 inside 50's were even (54-53 and 51-51) but the Eagles superior efficiency inside 50 (56%-45% and 53%-43%) saw them victorious.

Between the arcs

Grundy feeds an imposing midfield containing stars Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Treloar and Adamswith assistance from the underrated Sier, Phillips and Aish. Greenwood usually finds himself locking down on the opponents most damaging mid. It's a powerful unit and if they get control of the stoppages are hard to contain as Richmond discovered.

Against that group, the Eagles will be looking for Lycett and Vardy to neutralise Grundy's influence whilst Yeo, Shuey, Redden, Masten and Sheed get to work at ground level. Hutchings will stand alongside Sidebottom you'd expect whilst Cripps, Lecras, Rioli, Ryan and Venables will all move through the midfield at stages. It's a formula that has worked well in the two finals to date.

During the QF, the Pies midfield took control during the 2nd and 3rd quarters to reverse a quarter time deficit into a three quarter time lead looking every bit the likely victor. They were unable to match a Gatorade showered eagles midfield, however, as they redoubled their efforts in the last quarter and emphatically won the quarter 5 goals to 1.

If it's breakeven here, it'll go a long way towards an Eagles win.

The Maypole - Collingwood's F50

Collingwood's forward 50 resembles a maypole - a 211cm pole surrounded by a bunch of damaging small-medium forwards. Forget talk about the ability (or lack thereof) of Cox to mark the incoming ball because that's not what Collingwood rely upon. Instead they just want him to provide a contest as at that height he's rarely going to be outmarked and if he does catch it like he did against Richmond that's just a welcome surprise. Degoey, Thomas, Varcoe and WHE are all dangerous when the ball hits the ground whilst Mihocek provides a handy outlet target if he's not respected by his direct opponent. Degoey and WHE are also good marks for their size.

The loss of Sheppard aside, the West Coast back 6 (or 7 if you prefer) have been a stable unit all year and play their roles to perfection. West Coast rely on that group to win the ball through turnover and setup attacks from halfback. After successfully quelling Cox in the QF, Barrass will again stand the big American and I don't expect him to allow Cox the same free run at the ball that the Richmond champions did. Degoey is the big danger though not just because he's a goalkicker but he's a catalyst for teammates and crowd alike - if he gets going the spark he brings ignites those around him - Cole did a decent job on him in the QF after Sheppard's injury but Simpson may be tempted to throw Schofield onto him. Collingwood will put a lot of time into negating Gov as our leading intercept marker and Mayne appears the likely candidate after playing that role successfully after 1/4time in the QF. Buckley will also look to limit Jetta and Hurn as they are our most effective and reliable kicks from defence - Cole and Duggan are more negating defenders and less composed by foot so the more the ball goes through their hands the happier Buckley will be.

A some total of 19 goals from our previous two encounters suggests we have their forwards covered provided the ball doesn't come in as regularly and cleanly as it did in the 2nd quarter of the QF

The Twin Towers - Eagles front end

JK and JD loom large. If these two get on top then it's game over. They are the linchpins of our forward setup and are unstoppable when on song - when they came into the game in the QF Collingwood were unable to stop them. Tall defenders are also the pies achilles heel and it should be noted that in a game where Richmond were torched across the ground, Reiwoldt kicked 5 goals. Cripps and Lecras have been effective medium sized forwards whilst Ryan and Rioli bring the X factor that previous Eagles forwardlines have sorely lacked

Goldsack and Howe will be tasked with the responsibility of negating our marking targets whilst the rest of Collingwood's unheralded defence will hope to shutdown our smalls as they did Richmonds. In the end though they'll be relying on their mids to stop the ball getting in there

Between the Ears

If we learnt one thing from the prelims it's that all the talent and strategy count for nought if the intent isn't there.

Richmond had Collingwood covered on paper, and on displayed form, but the Pies overwhelmed them with a swarming attack on man and ball that made the runaway flag favourite look second rate. It was a complete performance aside from a minor lapse either side of 3/4 time that briefly raised tigers fans hopes of an unlikely comeback as they closed to 21 points and a sense of momentum. Collingwood responded with 3 goals to snuff out the challenge and finish comfortable victors.

If the Pies win was impressive then West Coast ended the Melbourne fairy tale with all the subtlety of an eskimo clubbing a baby seal. At halftime it was 69-6 and the contest was done before it even began. One side showed up, the other may as well not got on the plane

Should both sides come out with the same intensity they showed in their respective prelims we are in for a cracker of a game

Omens, I'll give you Omens

The Good -

  • Since joining the comp we've won a flag in every year of the dog - 1994 and 2006. 2018 is the year of the dog and fills a nice sequence - 1994, 2006, 2018
  • We've only lost Grand Finals in odd years (91,05,15) and won in even years - 1992 1994 2006 2018
  • Our two premiership coaches won their second GF after losing their first. Simmo has got his loss out of the way
The Bad -
  • Under the current finals format, each of the 4 times Qualifying opponents in week one have met again in the GF the result has been reversed. Disturbingly we make up 3/4 of that stat - Sydney (05 and 06) and Hawthorn (15)
  • That's enough bad

To be honest, I don't know. My heart says Eagles but chicken little has invaded my headspace. Either way I'll be proud of the way our team has performed throughout 2018 and should the unthinkable happen and Collingwood get up then good luck to them - they've earnt their spot and overcome their own share of adversity. Buckley and Pendlebury as coach and captain are class acts so if we are going to go down to a Victorian team I'd prefer it to be them

Eagles by 8 jubilant mastos


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Big Cox 88

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 1, 2010
AFL Club
West Coast
Other Teams
AC Milan, Chelsea
I just had a nervous poo. The toilet paper situation is tense.

I'm worried about Schofield playing on De Goey in the goal square.

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Premiership Player
Apr 5, 2015
AFL Club
West Coast
Credit to Collingwood though, at this stage of the game they were all over us. Hunting in packs, run and dash, they had us on toast. Every time we touched the pill there was an opposition hand on our jumper. They could smell blood.

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