Collingwood & the Western Bulldogs played each other at Docklands, in a match-up that saw both teams name almost ‘Best 22’s. The Bulldogs stated that this would almost be their Round 1 team and the Pies played everybody in contention who wasn’t injured (Greenwood the exception, who was rested after playing three full matches already this pre-season). For the neutral, it was another high-scoring, entertaining affair.
What we learnt
Dane Swan: Swan spent a lot of time up forward again in this match, especially in the first half. He went further into the midfield in the final quarter and nearly doubled his possession count from three-quarter time. This type of split between midfield and forward seems likely to be his lot in 2016 based on coach comments and his pre-season to date.
Brent Macaffer: Macaffer had stints both up forward and in the midfield, reprising the role that he played way back in 2010 (although he did seem a bit more midfield today than as a pinch-hitting forward). He’s still getting back into the swing of things from his ACL, he’s in the leadership group and he’s reasonably cheap in all salary-cap formats, so he could well end up as a decent option.
Jordan De Goey: Jordy spent a bit of time up forward in the first quarter but for most of the time up until three-quarter time he played midfield and looked solid. The Bulldogs put on more a lot of pressure, the Pies essentially had a full midfield contingent (only Greenwood really missing) and he still had a lot of time in the midfield and scored fairly well. He played permanently up forward in the last quarter, basically swapping roles with Swanny, and while still involved he definitely had less of it in this role. Another good, mid-priced option in teams this year and, if he keeps enough of a forward role, he may even be forward eligible again in 2017.
Adam Treloar: The man that many Pies fans went to see did not disappoint, getting involved in a lot and kicking two excellent goals – all of which got the fans up and about. For a guy who’s barely had a pre-season and was playing in his first full match after recovering from osteitis pubis it was a terrific match. He’ll be a hard man to tag in a team with Pendlebury and Sidebottom also running around and may well be on song from Round 1 after all.
Scott Pendlebury: Pendles is seen as Mr Consistent across fantasy circles and for good reason. Every year, it seems that people don’t really want to pick him (preferring to leave him as an upgrade target) but inevitably many do start him, confident that he’s a safe pick. Pendles hasn’t started a huge amount of centre bounces and has definitely spent time up forward and down back throughout the pre-season, though the majority of time has still been through the midfield. The Pies may have a lot of good mids these days but Pendles is still clearly the best of them, and I’d be surprised if he was put into a role that would lessen his impact on a match.
Collingwood yet again had a big score this week, and yet again conceded a big score. They also gave up huge amounts of possessions to their opponents in the Bulldogs and, while they may have a lot of fantasy relevant scorers themselves, they may continue to be a bit of a goldmine for opponents on this form. Aish played only a few minutes and then went on to play well in the VFL afterwards, while Greenwood, Grundy & Reid ‘should’ be back for Round 1, with Elliott & Howe pushing soon after. Everyone else who’s likely for Round 1 played in this game, and the fact that Gault played and Mason Cox did not is a pretty fair indication that Mason Cox will struggle to line up in the seniors in Round 1.
What we learnt
Tom Liberatore: Libba had his second game of the pre-season after recovering from last year’s ACL. He spent a lot of time in the midfield in this game but unfortunately looked very rusty. He was often beaten by his direct opponent in the centre bounces and did not manage to get involved in general play very often despite being near the ball a lot. His match fitness looked like something that needs improvement, as the Dogs tend to run/attack in waves down the ground and Libba just wasn’t able to participate in that – he seemed to slow down the longer the match went on. Should definitely be better for the run but how long until he will be back to his best is hard to tell. Will definitely give fantasy coaches a decision to make given his discounted price in salary cap formats.
Marcus Adams: Adams spent the majority of the game playing on Travis Cloke and certainly did well in that regard (Cloke was non-existent for much of the match). He is slightly shorter than an ideal key defender and when he & Morris lined up in the backline against Cloke & Moore it seemed that they would be hard-pressed to stop marks such as Moore’s leap from 4-deep in the 3rd quarter, as they simply had nobody who could reach it. Still, he played well, got a little bit of the ball and the fact that he played this game ahead of Kieran Collins suggests that he is a good chance to play Round 1 (Luke Beveridge stating that their team in this match would almost be their Round 1 team).
Jason Johannisen: Was on early and kept going all day, racking up the stats in every quarter. He presented well as an option, had a number of Inside 50s and almost kicked a super goal. Beveridge did say afterwards that he caused a couple of turnovers in the third quarter, but generally did play well. He had a good second half of last season (for DT/Fantasy at least) and is a candidate to improve again in 2016.
Koby Stevens: After starting at half-back in Matty Boyd’s role in an earlier game this pre-season, many people moved on him earlier in draft leagues with the hope that he would gain Defense eligibility mid-season. That does not look as likely after today’s game, as he spent time up forward, time down back and time through the midfield and gave more of an impression that he is likely to stay as Mid-only.
Matthew Boyd: Boydy spent a lot of the game reprising last year’s role at half back and certainly did not disappoint. While Koby Stevens did have a couple of stints back there, the fact that Boydy seemed to play there for the majority of the game suggests that he will keep that role this year, at least to start the season.
The Bulldogs brought a lot of pressure in this game and controlled long portions of it. Tom Boyd showed good signs, Bob Murphy was sensational off half-back and Johannisen and Hunter racked up touches at will. It looks interesting how Libba will fit into the Bulldogs’ fit, hard-running game style but certainly that will come easier to him the more matches he has back in the AFL. All in all, the Bulldogs look like they will be a dangerous opponent again in 2016.