Having surged to the verge of a premiership last year, Collingwood have reached their midseason bye in 2019 with nine wins and three losses, sitting second on the ladder. Lets delve into whats worked, and what hasnt?
For a team that missed the finals in four consecutive seasons from 2014 to 2017, things have turned massively at the Magpies. They are well on track for their second straight top-four finish, and look as strong a chance as anyone of stopping Geelong – who are the runaway leaders midway through the home and away season – in 2019. Collingwood had a difficult early fixture, facing the Cats in round one, Richmond the following week and then a grand final rematch against West Coast at the MCG. An extremely impressive win against the Tigers in which the Pies denied their opponents possession was sandwiched by defeats to the Cats and Eagles, results which showed Collingwood werent going to be able to steamroll their way through 2019. It speaks volumes about the Magpies resilience and general quality that they duly won their next seven matches despite rarely reaching great heights, and having been hampered by a run of injuries to regulars. Only in the Easter Thursday win over the Brisbane Lions did the Pies fully click into gear for four quarters, but they have played enough quality quarters to keep winning. The backbone of Collingwoods game has been an incredibly resilient defence and more to the point – defensive system – which has served them well following the appointment of highly-rated assistant coach Justin Longmuir at the end of 2017. Collingwood are conceding little more than 72 points per game. At the other end of the ground, the Pies unconventional forward mix continues to faze opposition backlines. Jordan De Goey, Jaidyn Stephenson and Will Hoskin-Elliott led the way on the Queens Birthday holiday against Melbourne, while Brody Mihocek has again been serviceable.
The danger with winning regularly despite not firing on all cylinders is that weaknesses can be overlooked. The Pies kept notching wins even though they were playing patchy football. Rejoining Collingwoods midfield, Dayne Beams has been largely unable to capture his best form, even though he is averaging 25 disposals across nine games. But after a quiet showing in the round 11 loss to Fremantle, his spot in the Pies 22 was coming under question, a point coach Nathan Buckley acknowledged publicly. Ultimately that became a moot point, because Beams now faces an uphill battle to play again at senior level this year, sidelined for three months with a hip injury. While the Pies injuries havent been anywhere near as damaging as those of Richmond, and Collingwoods injury list hasnt been as long as that of freefalling Melbourne, there have still been enough issues to keep Pies fans concerned. Jamie Elliott played seven of the first eight games, kicking 12 goals as he issued a reminder of his quality, but has since been sidelined with a hamstring issue. Chris Mayne, Darcy Moore, Mason Cox, De Goey, Hoskin-Elliott and Taylor Adams have also missed games because of fitness, while star big man Brodie Grundy has battled manfully despite ankle and neck concerns. Backman Tom Langdon is also a few weeks away from returning from a knee injury. Then there is 34-year-old Daniel Wells, who kicked three goals against Sydney in round 10 in what was his first senior game in 12 months, only to hurt his knee. The injury-prone veteran is no guarantee to play again this year, and it is feared we may have seen the last of him at AFL level. Lynden Dunn also tore his ACL again, leaving the defender's future in doubt too.
WHOS JUMPED UP?
The Pies defence was ravaged last year and all things considered stood up manfully, although ultimately the absence of several tall defenders may have cost them on grand final day. Those issues have been largely alleviated this year, on the back of two important inclusions. There were few doubts about Darcy Moores quality, just of his durability. But the father-son recruit has played 10 of 12 senior games to date and performed well enough to be mentioned in All-Australian discusRead More – Source