EJ magic helps Pies survive Saints scare
ADMITTING it was far tighter than he had hoped given the statistical dominance by his side, Collingwood coach Steve Symonds was just pleased to come away with the four points during the Magpies’ two-point win over St Kilda on Saturday. The Magpies had 16 more inside 50s (37-21), 21 more contested possessions and 14 more uncontested possessions, and also produced eight more clearances (28-20) than their opponents, but it took until a last minute goal from Eliza James to save the day.
When asked what he felt of the match post-game, Symonds conceded it was “tighter than we would have liked” with the Saints hitting the front during the last quarter.
“As the old saying goes, scoreboard pressure’s the biggest thing isn’t it? And when you don’t capitalise on your opportunities you leave the opposition there, and it only takes one mistake and the opposition is straight back into it. It was a little bit tighter for what we were hoping for.
“Statistically through the game we were reasonably dominant in all areas but the scoreboard is the biggest stat going around and we would have liked it to be a bit more favourable than it showed.”
It was far from smooth going for the Magpies despite leading for half the game, as the Saints managed to get back on top late in the game and could have put it beyond doubt had Nicola Stevens kicked truly from the goalsquare, but the Pies kept attacking to the final siren.
“We had plenty of opportunities in that last quarter and obviously when St Kilda hit the lead in the last quarter we obviously had to attack a lot more and we were a bit bold,” Symonds said. One thing we did take away from our men’s program this year is their ability to keep on whether they’re behind just keep on being really bold with the attacking and we’ve taken that mindset as well.
“There were a couple of times where we went a bit fast, we did it against the Crows as well. We were under a bit of pressure and nearly got that game. We were fortunate enough to get across the line today, but we’ll keep working on that and hopefully we won’t put ourselves in those positions too often.”
Collingwood controlled the clearances 28-20 off the back of a 6-4 centre clearance advantage. That allowed the Magpies to get high numbers of inside 50s and get good looks on goal throughout the match.
“I think centre bounce clearances are really important in women’s footy because it’s a territory game,” Symonds said. “So as soon as you get that clearance from there and get the ball down your end, then you can set up behind the ball a lot easier so all teams are always trying to do that. We talk about it a lot, that if we do concede a goal that it’s very important that next contest that we are all hands in and ready to go.”
Symonds said without the likes of Brianna Davey, Brittany Bonnici, Stephanie Chiocci and Aishling Sheridan, he had to roll the likes of Chloe Molloy, Jaimee Lambert and Ruby Schleicher through the midfield more than he would like.
“We’ve got a good midfield group, we’re patching it up a little bit and putting some of our better players through there and look ideally we’d love to be able to play Lambert and Moy (Molloy) forward a bit more, and Ruby back a bit more, but at the moment we’ve got a clear gap in the midfield so that’s why they’ve got to spend time in there and they’re doing a good job at the moment,” he said.
With Chiocci out, it meant Schleicher stepped up as acting captain, with the defender-turned-midfielder racking up 20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two clearances, six inside 50s and having 423 metres gained, the latter being the most of any player on the field.
“She’s a strong leader for us. She’s passionate about football, she’s passionate about her football team and she loves the contest,” Symonds said. “Today when it’s nice and tight she steps up to the plate.
“We’re taking her out of her comfort zone where she’s been playing at half-back for a number of years and putting her in the midfield now, trying to help her grow as a player. We’re seeing that, she’s getting more mature, understanding what to do at the right time and we’re really pleased with the way she’s going.”
Collingwood hosts GWS GIANTS at Victoria Park next Sunday, October 9, before a tough final three weeks in Season 7 with Fremantle (away), North Melbourne and Brisbane (away) set to test the Magpies and see whether they can finish inside the top four.