Collingwood's perfect 10 against Sydney
By: Glenn McFarlane
Collingwood knocked off Sydney across 10 success matches from 2006 to 2011.
It’s not as many as the record 29 successive wins Collingwood scored over Hawthorn from 1925-1941. And not as many as the 16 straight wins that the Magpies managed against the Swans, when they competed as South Melbourne, from 1924-1933.
But the fact that the streak came during a period in which the Swans made the finals in all but one of the seasons was testament to Collingwood’s capacity to compete against – and defeat – Sydney.
THE PERFECT TEN
1. HEATER IS ON
Round 12, 2006, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 14.11 (95) d Sydney 11.16 (82)
There was a sense of a changing of the guard in Collingwood’s 13-point win over Sydney in 2006 to start the streak. Six players in the Magpies’ side that night had played fewer than 25 games, and five of them would become mainstays.
Heath Shaw, in only his 17th game, collected his first three votes in the Brownlow Medal. Dale Thomas had the same amount of possessions as the number on his back in his 11th game, three days after turning 19. Scott Pendlebury was still 18, and playing his third game, and a rookie who loved to run, Harry O’Brien, was in his 11th game.
Travis Cloke worked hard in his 23rd game in attack and assisted Josh Fraser in the ruck. Only Chris Egan (his 15th game) failed to cement a long-term spot in the side.
Collingwood led at every change against the reigning premiers – by 11, 21 and 25 – before Sydney managed to cut the difference back to 13 at the end.
Twenty-three-year-old Alan Didak kicked four goals; Ryan Lonie (23 touches and two goals) shut out Adam Goodes (17 touches and two goals); while Simon Prestigiacomo restricted Barry Hall to three goals from limited opportunities.
2. LUCK OF THE IRISH
Round 12, 2007, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 10.16 (76) d Sydney 8.9 (57)
Collingwood unveiled 19-year-old Irish recruit Marty Clarke in its 19-point win over Sydney, prompting Mick Malthouse to describe him as a “big-time player” capable of dealing with crowds and pressure.
Clarke had 20 touches, with his coach saying: “We get a little caught up in our own game and underestimate what life on the other side of the planet is like.”
But as impressive as the kid from County Down was, there were other notable moments in this contest.
Dale Thomas kicked four goals, earning his first Brownlow Medal votes – three of them. Shane Wakelin emulated Presti’s game from the year before, keeping Hall to two goals; while Anthony Rocca kicked three goals.
Rocca had a clash with Sean Dempster, prompting Malthouse to spring to his defence. His coach said: “You might say if a shepherd has gone out of the game, then we are in big trouble. Let’s not be too pious or regimented; otherwise Martin (Clarke) will fit in beautifully because there will be no tackles and no bumps.”
The plea didn’t work. Rocca got two weeks, but at least Collingwood got the four premiership points.
3. WELCOME BACK, BUCKS
Round 21, 2007, MCG
Collingwood 15.11 (101) d Sydney 11.10 (76)
Nathan Buckley made an emotional return for Collingwood in its 25-point win over Sydney after missing almost a year with hamstring issues.
The 35-year-old received cheers all night, starting during the club’s warm-up, after some feared they night never see the champion in black and white again.
But Buckley not only played, he had 14 touches, laid two tackles, had six inside 50s and provided the inspiration behind the club’s solid win.
“It was a chance to get through, and get the four points, and we got both of those things, so it was a great result,” the skipper said after the match.
Injury-prone forward Sean Rusling kicked four goals – the most in a game from his short-lived 17-game career. Anthony Rocca kicked three goals; Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury polled the two and one Brownlow votes to Adam Goodes’ three; while Collingwood “rubber stamped” a finals appearance with its 13th win of the season.
Rocca was reported – again – for striking Goodes. As president Eddie McGuire stated on radio that night: “My four-year-old has hit me harder than that”, and as it turned out, the Magpie forward escaped penalty.
4. RAMPANT ROCCA
Elimination final, 2007, MCG
Collingwood 18.17 (125) d Sydney 13.9 (87)
This was the first time the Magpies and the Swans had squared off in a final in more than 60 years – since the 1945 second semi-final – and it ended up being Collingwood’s first finals win over the Swans since the 1936 Grand Final.
In many ways, the result was never in doubt, and it was Anthony Rocca who played a critical role in the Magpies’ 38-point victory.
The Herald Sun recorded: “He started like a freight-train, hobbled off as if hit by one, then somehow emerged unscathed after half-time to continue the demolition of Sydney.” Rocca finished with six goals for the game, while Travis Cloke and Sean Rusling each bagged three.
“I just hyper extended it (knee) and I thought I was in a bit of strife,” Rocca said after the match. “But the knee’s right.”
Buckley, in his third last game with the club, kicked his 284th and last goal in AFL football.
A six goal to one first term set the scene. Sydney fought back with six goals to two in the second term, but the Magpies booted 10 goals to six after half-time.
It set up what promised to be a close battle against West Coast at Subiaco. No one could ever have predicted just how tight that match would be.
5. THE SYDNEY SQUEEZE
Round 14, 2008, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 11.13 (79) d Sydney 6.14 (50)
Collingwood turned in a super defensive shutdown of Sydney, restricting the home side to two goals in three quarters of football, and six for the entire match.
Shane Wakelin all but personified this with a clinical shutdown of Barry Hall, annoying the Swans forward to the point of frustration in only his third game back since his total brain fade strike on Eagle Brent Staker earlier in the season.
At one stage of this match Hall took a wild swipe at Wakelin, which prompted his coach Paul Roos to admit: “I would be lying if I said it doesn’t worry me that he is still showing frustration.” Hall managed only one goal and finished with five free kicks against.
Wakelin was diplomatic after the match, saying: “I had my eyes on the footy, we had a tangle of arms and that’s as much as I knew about it.”
That incident aside, the Magpies showed why they were being rated as premiership contenders with solid form.
Travis Cloke had 19 disposals and booted three goals, Dale Thomas took a pair of spectacular marks and Dane Swan gathered 30 touches and three votes.
Playing on a “chopped up” ground that Channel Ten’s Robert Walls described as “disgraceful”, the Magpies set up their ascendancy with four goals to nil in the second term with two each in that period to Thomas and Cloke.
It established a break that Collingwood would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
Mick Malthouse was more than satisfied with the performance, saying: “I respect them (Sydney) as much as anyone. I rate their discipline, their coach and their players.”
6. NO SHAW, NO DIDAK, NO WORRIES
Round 21, 2008, Etihad Stadium
Collingwood 18.10 (118) d Sydney 10.13 (73)
When Collingwood was forced to suspend Heath Shaw and Alan Didak for the remainder of the season after the Round 17 loss to Hawthorn, many football pundits predicted the Magpies’ season was about to fall apart.
That it didn’t said much about the character of the Collingwood playing group.
Wins over St Kilda, Port Adelaide and then Sydney showed there was still plenty of fight in the Magpies as they headed towards the finals series.
The Sydney win came off the back of a “breathtaking opening term” that yielded eight goals and an advantage that they were never going to give up.
Five of those goals came in a memorable first 11 minutes of the match – Leon Davis (one minute-mark), John McCarthy (four), Scott Pendlebury (six) and two to John Anthony (nine and eleven) before late goals to Davis and Travis Cloke closed the quarter out.
The difference was out to six goals at the first change, 45 points at half-time and 55 at the last change.
Cloke finished with five goals and seven marks in an imposing performance, while his counterpart at the other end of the ground, Barry Hall, could only manage three after copping plenty of boos from the Collingwood crowd.
Mick Malthouse was pleased with the performance, saying: “We’ve been pretty good the last three weeks. We have had a constant flow of players going out of the side through injury and (we’ve been able to) hold up. It’s not always been easy.”
Scott Pendlebury was silky smooth with 28 touches; Dane Swan had 31; with the only negative being a calf injury to Scott Burns. It would prove to be the Collingwood captain’s 265th and last game in black and white.
7. MICK’S 600TH CELEBRATIONS
Round 12, 2009, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 13.11 (89) d Sydney 9.12 (66)
As far as footy milestones go, this was a big one. Mick Malthouse became only the third man in VFL-AFL history to coach 600 games – joining the legendary Jock McHale and Kevin Sheedy – and Collingwood played its part by making it a night to remember.
It wasn’t altogether easy. The Magpies had to work exceptionally hard and had to make do without one of their best players, Scott Pendlebury, who suffered an injury just two minutes into the match after falling across Ryan O’Keefe’s leg.
That prompted Malthouse to use his 600th after-match press conference to call for the AFL to introduce a substitute.
“We lost Scott Pendlebury in the first minute and it made it damn hard to have consistency on the bench,” he said. “We had two players very sore and they put their hands up to come back on the ground.
“At three-quarter-time we had to restructure our side so that we got the football we had to maximise results. That’s the best quarter (the final term) we’ve played … by heart.”
Malthouse’s call for a substitute would be answered in 2011, though he would be unhappy with the system that the AFL would devise – cutting the interchange from four to three and making one player as the sub.
Part of the reason for Collingwood’s dominance was a rich vein of form that Alan Didak was running in. A week earlier he had had his first 30-possession game. This night at ANZ Stadium he had 34 touches and combined brilliantly with Heath Shaw, Leon Davis and Dane Swan.
Heath Shaw admitted it was weird coming up against his brother Rhyce for the first time in Swans’ colours. But all he cared about was the four points.
8. HIGH BEAMS
Round 21, 2009, MCG
Collingwood 13.19 (97) d Sydney 8.8 (56)
A kid playing his 15th game provided the silk among Collingwood’s clinical, almost workman-like 41-point win over Sydney at the MCG.
Dayne Beams gathered 24 touches, laid four tackles and came under the notice of the umpires with a three-vote Brownlow Medal display. He was least experienced and youngest Magpie that night, but showed the signs that he would be a very good player into the future.
His coach was less enthused about the club’s win, saying it was hardly the sort of performance that might see Collingwood challenge St Kilda and Geelong for favouritism, despite the fact it was a fifth successive win.
“Favouritism … hardly,” Malthouse said. “We don’t get caught up with it. We are looking to improve without worrying about outside influence.” Part of his frustration came from the fact that his side could only manage to score 13 goals from 32 scoring shots.
There were some real highlights, including another Dale Thomas hanger; four goals to John Anthony; as well as two superb goals from Brad Dick.
Swans ruckman Darren Jolly came up against Josh Fraser and Cameron Wood.
The next time these two teams would meet Jolly would be wearing black and white.
This was not a bad effort from the Pies, given Dane Swan (22 touches and tagged by Rhyce Shaw) and Scott Pendlebury (13) were below their best, while small forwards Leon Davis, Paul Medhurst and Alan Didak could only manage one goals between them.
9. ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR MICK
Round 13, 2010, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 13.18 (96) d Sydney 10.11 (71)
For the second time in a year Mick Malthouse celebrated a trip to ANZ Stadium with another milestone victory. This time it was his 800th game as a player and coach.
The only negative for Collingwood was yet another inaccurate effort in front of goal that loomed as a long-term impediment in terms of chasing a premiership.
Malthouse, whose family flew to Sydney to help him celebrate, said: “We are a long way from it at the moment, but we have every right to think we have earned a top four (spot). A lot can happen in 39 years (his time in the game), and I have seen most of it.
“I feel as if I am still coaching reasonably well, I still get on well with the players, and I think I am up with the game.”
He revealed the club had had “5000 more shots at goal at training than we did last year” and was certain the club’s luck would change in terms of its accuracy.
Dane Swan was superb with 31 touches on Keiren Jack; Heath Shaw had 26; Simon Prestigiacomo kept Adam Goodes under close scrutiny; Chris Dawes kicked three goals while Leigh Brown, Travis Cloke and Steele Sidebottom each kicked two.
Darren Jolly also turned in one of his best displays to date for his new club.
All the aces were falling Collingwood’s way as the team prepared to tackle the second half of the season with eyes fixed firmly on the 2010 premiership.
10. CLOKE, A CLASSIC AND 13 GOALS AGAIN
Round 14, 2011, ANZ Stadium
Collingwood 13.21 (99) d Sydney 14.9 (93)
For the fourth consecutive time against Sydney, Collingwood kicked 13 goals, but this time it almost blew victory by failing to capitalise on 34 scoring shots to 23.
In a classic contest, the Magpies led at every change and even pushed the difference out to five goals when Luke Ball snapped a goal halfway through the third term.
But the gritty Swans kept fighting and even managed to drag the lead back in the last term before the visitors wrested back the lead when it mattered most.
Travis Cloke was outstanding, kicking six goals and grasping many contested marks. One of those grabs on the wing near the end of the game sealed the Swans’ fate.
But even he missed a shot directly in front early in the game that could have come back to haunt the Magpies. Fortunately, it didn’t.
Malthouse was perplexed by the inaccuracy. “I don’t think anyone can explain how we missed shots on goal like we missed,” the coach said.
“We controlled enough of the ball to put it beyond their reach. I get very disappointed with the execution, but no one means to miss a goal.”
In the end, it didn’t matter. Collingwood gamely held on to a six-point lead at the end to take its winning streak against Sydney to a perfect ten.