Magpies too strong for Zebras in Sunday afternoon clash
Despite having the early ascendancy the Zebras couldn’t capitalise as the Magpies proved too strong at the AIA Centre on Sunday afternoon
Photography: Mark Woods
Despite the Zebras starting strong and going into quarter time with a slim five-point lead, Collingwood proved too strong for Sandringham on Sunday afternoon in trying conditions at the AIA Centre.
AFL-listed players Nick Coffield and Olli Hotton stood up all day with 28 disposals apiece, while Oliver Lowe delivered in front of the big sticks with two majors. AFL-listed ruckman Max Heath had the better of the ruck duel, accumulating 30 hit-outs, 18 disposals, and a goal. AFL-listed Matthew Allison was persistent in his return game, finishing with 16 disposals and one goal.
Sandringham Dragon’s product Harvey Johnston was promising on debut in a sign of things to come. He finished with eight touches and a behind that was controversially called touched.
Smithy's VFL Round 18 was also TAC Road Safety Round, with our players and coaches wearing blue armbands to honour every life lost on the road, and act as a reminder that we all have someone to drive safely for.
Coaches and fans would’ve been very pleased to see the return of Coffield on Sunday, who began his game with a great intercept mark at half forward before hitting up Isaac Keeler inside 50 who kicked truly for the first major of the contest.
AFL-listed Jack Peris was electric in his return from his well-earned AFL debut last week, with a lightning-fast chase down tackle at half forward, the first of many for his afternoon.
Gown then converted his first shot at goal six minutes later after taking a good, juggled mark inside 50, and the Zebras had the first two goals of the day.
Hotton then got busy, amassing nine first quarter possessions to go along with two tackles, and was assisted through the middle of the ground by Tom Blamires and Ryan Byrnes who both finished the quarter with six disposals.
Down back it was AFL-listed Tom Highmore and Oscar Adams holding down the fort, combining for 13 disposals and 4 marks to hold the strong Magpie attack at bay. Highmore had a great courageous individual effort going back with the flight to spoil the ball out of bounds deep in defence.
Despite having more of the ball in the first quarter, the Zebras were the ones cracking in and showing real intent, leading the tackle count 14-10 by the end of the term. Blake Watson and Lowe both ensured the Zebras' forward pressure was on early, both applying early tackles to keep the ball locked in our attacking half.
Peris started the second quarter with his trademark pressure inside 50, winning a free kick for holding the ball, but unfortunately his set shot fell short.
Peris’ second chase down tackle of the quarter resulted in Allison’s first major in his return game and the first goal of the second quarter.
The Zebras' high intensity continued as Jake Lohmann laid a pair of tackles, one to prevent Collingwood from rebounding out of half back, the other to lock the ball in on the wing.
Darby Hipwell started to get involved in a few chains, as did AFL-listed Leo Connolly, who had six touches for the quarter.
The Pies then began to gain the ascendancy as they kicked the final two goals of the half to take a four-point lead into the main break.
The weather hadn’t improved by the the start of the second half, and it made for a very scrappy finish. Both teams kicked one goal in the third term, coming at opposite ends of the quarter, with Lowe being rewarded for some persistent forward pressure, he snapped truly to be the goalkicker for the Zebras.
AFL-listed Angus McLennan had a strong quarter, topped off with a nice intercept mark in the Zebras' defensive 50. Highmore continued to stand up with repeat efforts, highlighted by his brilliant smother and shepherd to free up his teammates at half back at the 26-minute mark.
The quarter ended in an arm-wrestle as both sides failed to capitalise on opportunities going forward which meant the Pies held a three-point advantage over the Zebras heading into the final term.
The Pies got the early territory domination in the final quarter and made the most of it to kick two goals within the first four minutes. That made it hard for the Zebras to gain any momentum for a comeback in the wet weather.
Anthony Seaton was great in the last quarter, gathering 10 disposals and three marks as he tried his best to lift the Zebras. Coffield was also busy, picking up 11 disposals of his own, as the ball remained in the Zebras' defensive 50 for most of the quarter.
A couple of late goals to Heath and Lowe brought the margin back to 18 points. Lowe was our leading goalkicker with two, and Lohmann and Paton set the tone with their tackling, both finishing with five.