The introduction of Mitchell and Bobby Hill was decisive and altered the way Collingwood played. Dan McStay didn’t do much, but his presence might have helped create space and opportunity for others. He looked like a player second-guessing where he should be for much of the night.
Jack Ginnivan relinquished his place in the team through his own silliness. Hill’s performance ensured Ginnivan’s return after suspension is not automatic. Hill added a different bite to Collingwood, not only in attack where he booted three goals, but with deep transition running. He looks like a player who enjoys the big stage. On Friday night he played in front of 86,000 people. On Sunday his old team played in front of a tenth of that, with only 8169 at the Giants-Crows match.
All that said, Brodie Grundy also vastly improves the look of Melbourne, whose win over the Bulldogs sounded the most ominous warning to the rest of the competition.
Grundy’s numbers didn’t reflect his effectiveness. He had a hand in seven scores, tunnel handballed a clever ball to Ed Langdon on the boundary in the pocket for a goal and booted one himself.
He only played 69 per cent of game time, which is a change for a player who usually enjoys using his endurance to exhaust opponents. He also only took one mark, which is a concern because marking has never been his strength: his career average is only 3.5 marks a game. As a second ruck and forward he needs to be more threatening in the air.
And, yet, there is no doubt he allowed Max Gawn to go forward more often, where the Melbourne skipper was as dangerous as any forward on the ground. Gawn hit the scoreboard and stretched the Bulldogs, and it was because Grundy enabled it.
This was a Melbourne side without Steven May, Jack Viney, Bailey Fritsch and Christian Salem. Again the sample size is small, but the signals for the season are there.
Is MRO enough of a deterrent
Kysaiah Pickett’s timing was awful. Put aside the fact he was late when he launched off the ground shoulder-first into Bailey Smith’s chest and head. His timing – and Buddy Franklin and Shane McAdam’s with their bumps – came after a week when the first of the long-threatened class actions for concussion were launched.
You cannot separate the two issues.
The grading system has divined penalties for Pickett (two matches) and Franklin (one) but the spectre of court proceedings and further litigation looms over all football decisions and must make us second-guess the size of penalties and the deterrent effect.
Are one and two-match suspensions sufficient for incidents with a potential for serious injury? Smith got straight to his feet, but ongoing studies into concussion suggest the potential for serious injury from high-impact collisions is great.
In isolation, none of the incidents look deserving of multi-game suspensions. But in the context of what is an existential threat to the game, the question is whether the punishments are sufficient.
Wright timing for Weideman
Peter Wright’s injury layoff for at least half the season creates the solid stretch of games that could be the tonic for ex-Demon Sam Weideman. A fringe forward all his career, his rejuvenation at a new club continued with a couple of goals in a quarter, and he looked to grow in confidence. A string of games can only help.