Nathan Brown, Jarryd Blair and Ben Reid celebrate Collingwood's semi-final win over West Coast
Photo: Getty Images
WHAT WE LEARNED: The Swans have plenty to worry about, but the Crows won't bother the Hawks...
The Magpies have their mojo back
It is immaterial whether Collingwood were playing for the memory of former teammate John McCarthy or simply playing for their season. What really matters is that the Magpies regained their famous intensity against the Eagles on Saturday night. The same West Coast team that poured on 20-plus goals against North Melbourne a week earlier had just seven goals at the final change. The Eagles booted two goals in the first five minutes of the final term to take the lead - and failed to score again. West Coast battled to get the ball past half back for much of the second half and it was only due to the excellent work of Eric Mackenzie and Darren Glass that the Pies battled to hit the scoreboard themselves. If the Swans can't find a way to break the Collingwood choke, a 12th straight loss to their bogey side is on the cards.
The Crows fail to convince
Critics of Adelaide's 'soft' draw would have seen little to dissuade them in Friday night's 10-point win over Fremantle. The Crows allowed the Dockers to boot six of the first seven goals and never quite shut the gate on the fast-fading visitors, despite being the dominant side in the second half. If it weren't for Ben Rutten's heroics at one end and Taylor Walker's at the other, Adelaide would be prepping for Mad Monday instead of Saturday's preliminary final. As it stands there appears to be a major gulf in class between the Hawks and the Crows, who will need to be significantly better if they are to avoid getting blown away by the minor premiers; a task made all the more difficult by the likely loss of Jared Petrenko and Sam Shaw.
The league must educate the public
The AFL has announced that the video review umpire was acting within his powers when he intervened after an Andrew Krakouer goal in the first quarter of Collingwood's win. But nobody seemed to understand that at the time – including the commentators, who protested the reversal along with players and supporters. Andrew Demetriou admitted last week that the MRP had failed to communicate to fans effectively, and the same can be said of the rules committee in this instance. Many around the game still don't have a full understanding of a system that has been in place since round one. That's inexcusable. Transparency about what the video umpire can and can't do (and how the benefit of the doubt is being adjudicated) would go a long way to clearing up the hostility that is still being directed at video reviews six months in.
The big stories all flop on the field
The pre-game hype ahead of Adelaide v Fremantle centred on Matthew Pavlich and how the Crows would contain him without Rising Star winner Daniel Talia. Meanwhile, Collingwood v West Coast analysis focused on how the Magpies would cope with the Eagles' abundance of tall options without Nick Maxwell, as well as the one-two punch of Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui. Naturally, none of these players had any impact in their respective finals. Pavlich was held to one goal and limited impact at AAMI Stadium, while the Eagles got scant reward out of their tall forwards (Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy shared three goals between them) and were nullified in the ruck battle by an excellent Darren Jolly. The other hyped talking point – will one or both top-four finishers go out in straight sets? – also proved to be a waste of breath.
Lost in transmission
Aren't broadcasters meant to step up their coverage in finals? Someone forgot to tell Channel Seven. Bizarre camera angles, overly blokey commentary and unnecessary hyperbole plagued the broadcasts of both semi-finals. Replays were missed - or missed the pertinent piece of action - and spectators were too often subjected to Brian Taylor, Luke Darcy and Matthew Richardson pumping up each other's tyres while the excellent Cameron Ling was reduced to rare interjections from the boundary line. Meanwhile, the Fox Footy team continue to distinguish themselves with their analysis at each break. Let's hope Seven's Monday review reveals a few home truths before the three biggest games of the season.
- After the poor turnout at AAMI Stadium and subsequent criticism of Adelaide supporters, expect the fruit-tingled masses to flood Melbourne next weekend.
- Daisy Thomas's third-quarter cameo was the difference on Saturday night, but the Pies will need more from their mercurial midfielder to knock off the Swans.
- Andrew Embley will be haunted by his last-quarter grubber that ended in a Collingwood goal for years. So will John Worsfold.
- On current form, Adelaide should pack Kurt Tippett's bags for him. The free agency compensation is looking tastier by the week.
- For all his athletic gifts, Nic Naitanui is yet to take a big game apart at senior level. Too often, he failed to use his pace defensively against Collingwood, allowing the Pies to clear when he could have closed them down.
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