Story of 2015
2015 was a tale of two halves for Collingwood. The Magpies were sitting well at the halfway point with an 8-3 win-loss record before they flopped for the second half winning just two more games and finishing 12th.
After the 2014 season provided the team with a similar fate and with the list assembled since Nathan Buckley has been at the helm, it would be fair to assume that such demise won’t happen again with finals a vital necessity for Buckley to show his worth.
It appeared an admirable effort for the club with the sixth-youngest list in the league but the fall from the first half of the season proved a disappointing finish.
What went right
The introduction of Collingwood’s young draftees who all managed to string games together throughout the season and develop their talent was an important part of 2015. Buckley pursued throughout the season with youngsters Jordan De Goey (16 games), and Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard later in the season. Matt Scharenberg and Jonathon Marsh also made their debuts during the season providing a shining light and plenty of hope for pies fans in the future. Buckley’s perseverance with these youngster’s means they will go into the 2016 season with already a number of games and match day experience under their belt.
Collingwood’s 2014 recruits of Jack Crisp and Travis Varcoe were amongst Collingwood’s best players in 2015. Varcoe found a new love for the game and it shone through in his drive and endurance during the season. Jack Crisp was a largely untried player and many were skeptical of his introduction at the Pies but he proved his worth and cemented himself a spot in Collingwood’s best 22 with consistent performances week in, week out.
What went wrong:
For the second year in a row, Collingwood had a second-half demise.
The downfall began when the Magpies suffered five consecutive, yet admirable losses, to high-quality teams – Fremantle, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, West Coast and the Bulldogs – before inconsistencies set in with heavy losses to Melbourne but a powerful win against Geelong. The Pies lost five games by under two goals in the second half of the season.
Collingwood’s six game losing streak was their longest since 2005.
Another issue was the lack of forward line balance with Jesse White and Travis Cloke unable to work cohesively. However, with introductions of Jeremy Howe and the development of Darcy Moore those issues should now be behind them.
This year the Pies won’t be considered a premiership threat. However, with the inclusions of established ex-GWS midfielder Adam Treloar, former top 10 draft pick James Aish and and ex-Demon Jeremy Howe, Collingwood can expect some pressure on their performance.
After two consecutive finals misses and busy exchange periods, it is crucial for Collingwood to make the eight, and it would be a “100% failure” should they not according to midfielder Taylor Adams.
Pressure will be placed on Darcy Moore and Jordan De Goey to cement their spots in the best 22 and avoid second year blues. While Aish is yet to prove himself at AFL level, with a turbulent time at the Brisbane Lions, when he is at his best he will slot straight into Collingwood’s best 22.
Darcy Moore is arguably the most exciting young talent Collingwood bolsters. He is a promising player with a strong ability to win the ball both over-head, averaging one contested mark in his nine games last year, and on the ground. He is incredibly athletic for a tall player and it assists in his ability to win the ball and compete against the bigger bodied defenders.
Despite an outstanding 2015 season, with Dane Swan back to his Brownlow Medal-winning best, he will be more likely to spend time in the forward half this year and less in the midfield after the additions to Collingwood’s list with the team now boasting six to seven genuine midfielders. His ability to use space, hit targets and set up play will provide added spark and make him the perfect rotating midfielder.
Travis Cloke will arguably be facing his toughest season yet with all eyes on him after his gradual demise over the past four seasons. The powerhouse forward no longer leads the league for average contested marks, dropping down that list over the past two seasons. His goal-kicking tally has also significantly decreased, with just 34 goals kicked last season. At 28 years old and six kilograms lighter, the 2016 season will be pivotal for Cloke to re-cement himself as a strong-marking, key forward.
Significant weight is going to be placed on Nathan Buckley this year. Despite signing a one-year contract extension until the end of 2017, if Collingwood doesn’t perform to expectation then even greater pressure will be placed on the club great. Two positives to help Buckley through the year is the support he has from the Collingwood board and the promising, young list he has built during his tenure.
B – Jack Frost – Nathan Brown – Alan Toovey
HB – Marley Williams – Ben Reid – Tom Langdon
C – Steele Sidebottom – Taylor Adams – Jack Crisp
HF – Dane Swan – Darcy Moore – Jeremy Howe
F – Alex Fasolo – Travis Cloke – Jamie Elliott
Foll – Brodie Grundy, Scott Pendlebury, Adam Treloar
I/C – Travis Varcoe – Levi Greenwood – James Aish – Jordan De Goey