Symonds “really happy” with territory battle

ADMITTING his side needed to change from last year’s gameplan, Collingwood coach Steve Symonds was “really happy” with his side in the Magpies’ 18-point win over Carlton to kick off the 2022 AFL Women’s season. Conceding that his team made too many mistakes when coming out of its back half in Season 6, Symonds said dominating the territory battle and keeping it in the front half was a key focus for the Magpies going into last night.

“It was something we identified last year that we were turning the ball over a lot in our back half so we’ve made a real conscious effort in the preseason to try and keep the ball in our front half a little bit more,” Symonds said. “Tonight we were able to do that so we would have like a little bit more score on the board to get a little bit rewards of that, but the ethos what we were trying to do, the methods started to show up.”

The Magpies could have, and probably should have, won the game by more than the final 18-point margin, having kicked 5.6 (36) to the accurate, albeit with limited opportunities Carlton, who slotted 3.0 (18). Collingwood also had 37 inside 50s to 18, but did well to break even in the Blues through the clearances (23-23), as Breann Moody was too good through the ruck, dominating against ex-Blue Alison Downie, 36-16.

Despite the scratchy start, Symonds said it was “great just to be back playing footy” and that the side had enjoyed a “really solid” preseason. When asked about the midfield rotations and the the insertion of Chloe Molloy, Ruby Schleicher and Imogen Evans onball, Symonds said there would be plenty of opportunities for players to test themselves in there for the Pies to find the right “mix” in the absence of stars Brianna Davey and Brittany Bonnici in Season 7.

“We make no bones, you’ve got two of the best midfielders in the competition out of your team, so we’ve made a bit more midfield depth and had a number of players go through there tonight,” he said. “Yeah Rubes (Schleicher) and Moy (Molloy) were in there for a little bit of times, but we also put them in different parts of the ground. Then your Tarni Browns and Evans’ and these types all had a bit of a run through there as well.”

There were serious concerns when the third of the elite Pies midfielders went down clutching her lower leg in Jaimee Lambert. The tough bull was able to be helped from the field and jog off, and much to the relief of Pies fans, return to the field. Later on, forward Abbi Moloney received a head knock and had to be taken off to be assessed under the concussion protocols, but passed and was also allowed to return.

One player who did not make the team last night among the highly anticipated club debuts was Olivia Barber, a player the Magpies would have dearly loved for that extra support in the ruck and up forward. Symonds explained her status after she was spotted at Ikon Park in a moon boot.

“Liv unfortunately went over on her ankle at training on Monday night, so one of those players that was pushing for an opportunity,” Symonds said. “We’re trying to get her right for Round 2, and we’ll see if it comes up. It’s pretty progressive at the moment but she’s going to be okay I think.”

After the first-up win, Collingwood fans will have to wait 10 games for their side’s next match, with the black and whites hosting Sydney Swans back at the spiritual home at Vic Park. The first bounce is at 1:10pm on Sunday, September 4, with the Pies hoping to repeat the effort they produced over the Swans in preseason, with a number of names headlined by Lambert, back in for that clash unlike earlier this month.

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