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2018 Recap: Debutants

2:36pm  Oct 18, 2018

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Saturday's Ultimate Preview

David Natoli  August 4, 2017 11:30 AM

How to beat the Kangas' 'big boys' Watch the raw footage of Nathan Buckley as he fronted the media ahead of the Magpies clash with North Melbourne on Saturday night.

In 2017, David Natoli, aka DaVe86, returns to Collingwood Media to file his famous, in-depth tactical match previews.

Since publishing his first report on Nick's Bulletin Board in early 2005, DaVe86 has become a weekly favourite among the passionate online Magpie Army receiving thousands of views for each article.

The articles are lengthy and have been published in their entirety as the club did not want to hinder DaVe86's creativity during the writing process.

The views expressed in DaVe86's previews are solely of the author and do not reflect the views of the Collingwood Football Club.

Although this may be a battle between the 13th and 16th placed teams on the ladder, both Collingwood and North Melbourne have publicly vowed to throw everything into the final month of this season. Overall, both sides have been in good form over the past fortnight. The Kangaroos staged an upset against Melbourne last week in Tasmania, while Collingwood drew against top of the table Adelaide after winning its previous two matches.

Both Collingwood and North Melbourne will look at 2017 as a season of missed opportunities. The Kangaroos have lost four games by under a goal, and numerous others by close margins. Collingwood has also been very competitive all season and should have won more games than it has, including last week’s nail-biter.

It will be interesting to see how Collingwood bounces back from the draw last week against Adelaide. After being as much as 50 points in the lead, the Magpies were helpless against a rampaging Crows outfit in the second half. But, with 10 seconds to go and a six-point lead in hand, the Magpies should have still held on. In many respects, the draw felt like a loss considering the Magpies needed a win to stay in finals contention. I feel there could be a risk that the Magpies will feel a little bit flat after such a big effort last week without the result they were after, so it is vital that they start strongly this week and maintain the same levels of effort.

Collingwood returns to Etihad Stadium for only the third time this year. Etihad has not been a happy hunting ground for Collingwood in recent years, but the recent victory against West Coast will have given it some confidence. North Melbourne plays the majority of its matches at Etihad Stadium, but has only won there twice this year and lost nine times. It’s quite a damning statistic considering North has played terrific football at the venue in recent years. In fairness, a number of its losses this year at Etihad Stadium have been in very close games.

Recent History
The last meeting between these two sides was back in round 18 last year, where it was the Kangaroos by a comfortable 40 points. Sam Gibson polled the three Brownlow votes with 33 disposals and a goal, while Daniel Wells polled two votes and tore Collingwood apart with his 29 disposals. Rounding out the votes was Lindsay Thomas who booted five goals.

At the Selection Table
For the first time this year, Collingwood goes into a game unchanged. North Melbourne on the other hand has lost Jarrad Waite and Majak Daw through injury. This has paved the way for the return of Todd Goldstein and Nick Larkey.

The Kangaroos have named a very tall line-up, with four players who are genuine ruck options. It is an interesting selection decision, but Collingwood’s defence is quite short so the extra height may be a problem.

The Danger Men
Ben Brown – The Tasmanian has taken his game to a new level this year, booting 51 goals so far and is in real contention for the Coleman Medal. He is a very difficult match-up given the fact he is 200cm but moves very well, and he is also a terrific shot for goal. Given Collingwood’s undersized defence, Brown looms as the real danger man for North Melbourne.

Daniel Wells – Wells played his best game for Collingwood last week, and perhaps one of the best in his career. With 34 disposals and three goals, Wells was clearly the best player on the field and one of the main reasons why the Magpies were able to jump to such a big lead against the ladder leaders. When these sides last met, Wells was wearing the blue and white stripes, and polled two Brownlow votes. The Magpies will be very thankful he will be wearing the Black and White this week. It will be interesting to see whether the Kangaroos elect to tag Wells as opposed to Adam Treloar or Steele Sidebottom. Declan Mountford could get the job.

Focus on Collingwood
The first half of last week’s clash against Adelaide was some of the best footy any side has played this year. The Crows, who are considered an offensive juggernaut, were only able to kick three goals in the first half. After half time, the Crows clicked into gear and made an amazing comeback. In truth, Collingwood continued to match Adelaide in most areas of the ground, but it was Adelaide’s efficiency going forward which was the big difference. The Crows booted 16.7 to Collingwood’s 15.13. In fact, Adelaide only had three more scoring shots in the entire second half, but was able to convert at an astonishing rate. Collingwood, on the other hand, missed some crucial shots, and made some crucial skill errors.

In general, Collingwood can take a lot out of the game. Its midfield dominated and won just about every statistical category. The Magpies probably would’ve beaten any team in the competition last week by a big margin, but unfortunately had to come up against the best side. The test for Collingwood is to maintain that level of intensity, and also be brave enough to keep moving the ball as fluently as it did last week. There is a risk of a letdown this week after such a grueling clash last week and only a 6-day break.

Focus on North Melbourne
Although the Kangaroos have only won five games for the year, they have been competitive throughout and have proven a difficult side to put away. North Melbourne’s spine is still really solid, with Ben Brown and Robbie Tarrant high quality bookends.

In the centre, the Kangaroos have real toughness with Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Andrew Swallow always fierce opponents. The Roos have probably lacked a bit of zip, although Shaun Higgins continues to impress. The Magpies could expose the Kangaroos on the outside this week, but the Kangaroos do have a significant height advantage up forward. If North’s midfield can gain the ascendency and get it in quick, there are really strong marking targets up there. Todd Goldstein has had a difficult year, and will face a tough battle against the in-form Brodie Grundy. If Goldstein can play at his best, North Melbourne has enough inside grunt to win a lot of clearances, which could expose Collingwood’s defence.

Although the Kangaroos have fallen out of finals contention, their fans will have plenty to feel encouraged about with a number of young players such as Taylor Garner showing a lot of good signs.

The Wrap Up
This should be an interesting battle, against two sides that have a lot of pride on the line. Collingwood has worked hard in the previous three weeks to move up the ladder, and will want to carry this momentum forward. North Melbourne, on the other hand, will want to continue the form it displayed last week against the Demons, and finish the season of strongly.

Both sides were involved in nail-biters last week. Whether they can both play at the same level displayed last week will be the big question.

By David Natoli
Aka DaVe86