Zebras winning streak snapped by polished Collingwood side
The Sandringham Zebras were unable to continue their winning ways, suffering an 18-point defeat in their Round 12 clash against Collingwood at the Holden Centre.
Photos by AFL Media
A strong crowd braved the freezing cold July weather and occasional spurts of rain, with Zebras fans turning up in droves to support their side as they tried to make it four wins on the trot.
The Zebras had a scintillating start, kicking their first major of the match 45 seconds into the first quarter when Dean Kent charged out of the centre square and delivered to Darcy Hipwell on the lead.
Kent backed this up with another four possessions in the opening 5 minutes as the Zebs asserted their early dominance with repeat inside 50 entries.
Finlay Bayne troubled Collingwood’s defence with his leg speed and was impressive in a high-half forward role, slotting the Zebs second of the day through a sharp front and centre crumbing kick to open up an early 12-point lead.
Some tempo footy from the Pies halted the Zebras momentum, and they soon had their first of the day through an Ollie Henry snap in the pocket.
The swirly breeze presented a huge challenge for both sides, with several kicks falling just short of the intended target.
Despite the challenging conditions, the Zebras moved the ball aggressively and were rewarded when Cooper Sharman gave them their third after taking a solid contested mark close to goal.
Aggressive offense was coupled with stoic defence as the Zebs clogged up the corridor, causing Collingwood to repeatedly kick wide and down the line to outnumbered contests as they struggled to get any fluency in their ball movement.
When captain, Dan Coffield ran into an open goal to kick his side’s fourth, the lead was 17, and the Zebras looked good.
The rest of the quarter was mostly played in Collingwood’s forward half as they squandered a few gettable chances, cutting the margin to 13-points at the quarter time break.
The opening minutes of the second term were untidy, with lots of unforced errors and turnovers as the ground became slippery due to the persistent drizzle.
Sam Dunell presented well up forward and was rewarded with the Zebras first of the term, taking a strong contested mark close to goal against two Collingwood defenders.
Unfortunately for the Zebras, they struggled to compete against Collingwood’s bigger bodied midfielders, conceding a huge deficit in centre clearances and contested ball.
Oscar Clavarino battled hard at full back despite an onslaught of inside 50 entries, but the dam wall eventually broke as the Pies kicked six consecutive goals in less than 15 minutes.
Eventually the Zebras settled down and stemmed the bleeding, as they trailed by 19-points heading into the main break.
The Zebras came out of the break with renewed enthusiasm, upping their pressure as they sensed an opportunity to get back into the contest.
After a quiet first half, Jack Lonie gave his team a much-needed lift when he kicked his first major of the day from a long-range set shot to keep the Zebs within striking distance.
Vice-captain Goy Lok was inventive in the forward half with his run and carry and some low bullet passes towards Sam Alabakis and Chris Carey, while Mitch Riordan was workmanlike in the centre.
The Magpies were spreading well from the stoppages again to put the Zebras half backs under pressure, and eventually they capitalised to extend their lead to 26-points.
The Zebras responded quickly to kick the next two, with Jack Lonie’s impressive goal on the run from the 50-metre arc — his second of the quarter — cutting the margin back to just 14-points late in the quarter.
A sloppy free kick from a centre square stoppage allowed Collingwood to strike back, but the Zebras finished the third quarter full of run to trail by 21-points at the final change.
It was the Zebras who were on the back foot to start the last quarter, as Collingwood controlled general play through their uncontested marking.
Clavarino and Joyce fought defiantly in defence; however, the Pies broke through courtesy of Jack Ginnivan’s fourth goal to open up a 29-point buffer.
Oscar Lewis gave the Zebs some much-needed run and carry across the wing, delivering a booming kick to ruckman Paul Hunter who hauled in a brilliant contested grab and converted his first of the match.
Carey also looked threatening at times as a tall target but wasn’t able to capitalise on a few half chances to give his side a sniff.
Sharman’s consolation goal brought the margin back to 17 points with a few minutes remaining in the match but unfortunately it wasn’t enough, the Zebras suffering an 18-point defeat at the hands of Collingwood at the Holden Centre.
Senior coach Jake Batchelor spoke about where it all went wrong for the Zebras after a promising first quarter.
“We couldn’t challenge them with our attack. Our ball movement was really stagnant and we kept kicking long down the line a lot and they kept beating us in that area,” he said.
“Against this team and in this type of weather you’ve got to be a good contest team and we weren’t today.”
Batchelor also gave his thoughts on where the team needs to improve heading into next week.
“We’ll keep working on our contested patterns and our work rate between contests but we still did some good things today, we shifted the ball well, kicked straight and got the ball in deep.”
The Zebras now sit 14th on the ladder and will be looking to get back on the winners list ahead of round 13 VFL action.