Langdon wasn’t wrong … but the Pies’ “one trick” is just that good

Collingwood, huh?

Of all the Pies’ 11 streak victories, including the Queen’s Birthday triumph over Melbourne that got everyone talking, none have been this good.

In terms of home and away wins, it’s hard to remember that cakes have a better one in a generation. Faced with a team of Demons in hot form that brutalized them in midfield, the Magpies found a way to neutralize them, then beat them on the break.

This team, the one destined to run on luck, is now second in the standings. One of the most extraordinary seasons in VFL / AFL history, no matter in recent memory, just keeps getting more and more incredible.

Better close the hatches and invest in a bulletproof front door, my fellow Victorians. Many more such wins, and the city definitely can’t survive the frenzy of Magpie fans.

Of course, the result will mean a lot of Ed Langdon-style vitriol for those Thursday night comments. In his defense of him, however, he was not entirely wrong.

Langdon’s claim that the Magpies are a “pony with a trick” rings true in some ways: the Pies play frantic and dangerous footy that can sometimes backfire without the necessary pressure to accompany them. Against Port Adelaide last week, it meant being regularly repelled in their own way ahead of time by a team eager to fight fire with fire.

It took a quarter to adjust to that, but they did. If the Pies are a pony with only one trick, it is only from an offensive point of view: their underestimated defensive structure, which goes all the way to the midfield and results in an undersized backline with Jeremy Howe as a key defender capable of hindering a dangerously high The line of attack of the Demons in the second half does not get the credit they deserve.

And there was one more thing that Langdon lacked; something he will now surely know everything about. The Pies’ incredible brand of footy when firing, mowing in the middle with a bold and exhilarating stroke and hitting forward or just slipping it on top of them, it’s impossible for anyone to stop when at full throttle.

If the goddesses can’t get close to keeping them hidden, surely no one can.

If you were trying to get a friend to start following AFL, I highly recommend showing him the first quarter on a Friday night.

This was all to admire about our game: fast-paced pace, fierce intensity, elite skill, goals galore, and an intriguing tactical battle between two teams with wildly different styles.

For the more discerning, there was also an element of pantomime: It took Ed Langdon 19 seconds to snatch it from four Magpies eager to release a statement on his comments during the week. Unsurprisingly, Brayden Maynard was the main antagonist of that little scuffle.

Between that and Jack Ginnivan attracting the crowd after finally winning a free kick, the content mill got its pound of flesh too. It was pretty damn great.

However, a pattern was emerging that would remain valid for the next quarter-and-a-half: brutal Melbourne up close and comfortably looking like the top outfit, the Magpies clinging to their wake and refusing to be swept away by the water as the it had been Fremantle last week.

A differential of 19-11 within 50 is usually death against the Dees – you have to be great to score on Steven May, Jake Lever and friends with that kind of territorial deficit.

The Magpies were exceptional. Electric with the ball in hand as they broke through the pressing high intimidation of the Dees and the fierce pressure on the ball carrier, the gaps opened within the 50 for the pies to accumulate on five goals in a row for the term.

Between Ash Johnson and Jamie Elliott, they had all bases covered within 50: safe hands ahead and reliable kicks from the former, phenomenal pressure from the latter. Within half-time, Elliott would score two of his three goals to keep the ball free; for poor Michael Hibberd, there was no way to escape him all night.

Notable how the Pies ventured forward was their ability to neutralize or completely avoid May and Lever as they moved. The pair had only one sign between them until the main interval, with stout but determined Brody Mihocek, Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron desperate enough to bring the ball to the ground over and over again.

All of which meant the Pies were still chasing at half-time, with eight goals out of 18 home entrances – 50. In every other aspect of the game, however, they were beaten.

This Melbourne squad only sporadically reached the heights last September of this year, but good luck equaling them in the middle when they shot at all levels.

The Dees didn’t even need the terrifying quarterback Gawn-Petracca-Oliver-Viney to wreak havoc: with Angus Brayshaw a frequent presence in the guts for the second straight week and Luke Jackson doing much of the rebounding work in the center, he showed. how many options Simon Goodwin had at his disposal.

Petracca didn’t even need a clearance at half-time for the Dees to climb 30-13 in that stat, 13-4 from the center. Brayshaw fit so perfectly into that midfield group that he could play himself as a side defender on the Australian squad – his silkiness of foot and ability to intercept on defense made it easy to forget that the man is as tough as the side. top of his helmet.

He and Oliver had six clearances each at half time; Viny five after four in the first quarter. The only Pie who could even touch them in the center was the dangerous Jordan De Goey, whose coal-faced explosive power made him a permanent threat.

That line-breaking power is the only way to explain how the Pies, despite all their hard-ball cancellation – 86-64 possessions disputed at half-time, to be exact – were matching Dees’ goal for scores. interruptions. The story of the half was that for every ten in the 1950s the Demons could rally, the Pies would only need three to have the same impact.

Say what you want about De Goey – and I’ve said a lot this year – but games like this make it so clear why he remains in high demand at both the Magpies and elsewhere, at all costs. Nine removals for the evening were more than double that of any other Pie, while having that rare combination of strength and speed that has made the likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin and Petracca the best player in the league at various times over the past decade. .

Over the past 18 months, De Goey has fallen behind in being a permanent midfielder with an improved engine and has spent virtually all of his time there tonight. Now it is imperative that the Pies find a way to hold him back for 2023; otherwise, their midfield would have been shot to a point of no return in the first half.

Brayden Maynard of the Magpies confronts Ed Langdon of the Demons.

Brayden Maynard of the Magpies confronts Ed Langdon of the Demons. (Photo by Darrian Traynor / Getty Images)

The main plan of the Dees was to deny the Pies the interception game that tore them apart on Queen’s birthday: after 23 interceptions that day, they would only collect five in the first half. The quick and precise movement of the Dees ‘ball, exposing the Pies’ wobbly defense one-on-one, was a sound plan and with seven scores within 50 to three at half time, it was working wonders.

Only the occasional bad miss in front of the big sticks, none other than captain Max Gawn’s shin from close range in the first period, prevented an even bigger lead than the Demons: however, 17 points down at half time, something had to give up. .

Either the efficiency of the Pies would fall back to earth, or the Dees would begin to be matched to the center.

The turnaround was incremental at first, but when you spent the first half being bullied, even the draw is an instant turning point. In the third term, the Pies leveled the authorizations to 8 each and suddenly found things in their favor.

It also helped that their frenzied contrast pressure increased another gear.

Not so much that they started to score more, or to dominate the battle of the territory – nine to 50 for the third term were perfectly in step with the 18 of the first half – but rather that their defense was given a chance to breathe. Instead of permanently ruining, facing and clinging grimly, they may start attacking.

Nothing sums up the Pies in 2022 as much as the sling kick they used abundantly in that third quarter, making mincemeat even of the Demons. Where the corridor had been interrupted at every opportunity previously, the Magpies began to find space, daring to launch risky internal kicks. Luck, as usual, favored the brave.

Kicking four of the last five goals and staying ruthlessly, if unusually, accurately, the pies were right where they wanted to be: seven points down three-quarters time. Now he would only ever be close – and we know who is most comfortable with all of them in that scenario.

The notable part of each statistic is that Melbourne remained dominant, but the Pies had an advantage in the scores of those stats. permissions? Melbourne roads ahead, but the Pies 30-26 ahead for points from them. Does the center bounce? Again, the supreme Dees 16-6, but only taking a slight advantage for points thanks to a goal from Alex Neal-Bullen midway through the last to regain the lead.

But at that point, the cakes were inspired. A silky Josh Daicos finish, after goals from that duo Johnson and Elliott again, meant the Dees would have to win it rather than lose it.

Punishment for Johnson in one-on-one with Harrison Petty in a panic? Boom. Goal number ten directly from set shots.

A quick word on Johnson too: with each passing week it becomes more and more extraordinary that a player of his characteristics needed a mid-season draft to have a chance.

Boasting nice hands, a lovely right boot, and – and that’s key – nerves of absolute steel, he’s now a striker you need to prepare for rather than the one you send your designated free man to. The Dees seemed to be trying to get Lever off on a regular basis, but Johnson was smart enough and the Pies’ ball was good enough to allow him to take his toll on him.

Four goals in a match like that, the only flaw a rebellious shot from the left (you can’t have everything right?), Was the game in and of itself.

The Pies needed to take every little chance in the first half to keep up close. In the second they did not, but they continued to do so anyway.

There can be no greater praise for Collingwood than this: Melbourne, the reigning premier and owner of the game’s most brutal midfield, had it all on their terms.

And the Magpies resisted it all, got up from the canvas and landed them with their one trick.

Langdon wasn’t wrong … but the cakes still gave him his right cakes.