MATCH REPORT: St Kilda v Collingwood | Round 5, AFL 2023

Matt Tiffen
April 17, 2023
Gather Round has come and gone and we walk away without the four points but with our heads held high. The game against Collingwood could not have come at a better time for the club. Undefeated after four rounds, the commentary from outsiders centered around us not having faced any ‘good’ teams yet (Essendon is second on the ladder, Dogs & Freo are finalists from last year,) so the Pies were the perfect measuring stick to see firsthand just how well we’re tracking. We may have lost the game, but we leave Adelaide with the knowledge that our best can match it with the best. Injury-depleted, up against the premiership favourites, we stood our ground and fought to the end, and very nearly stole victory from certain defeat.I am still in Adelaide after travelling across for Gather Round, this report is written from only watching the game in person, so apologies in advance if it is lacking in any area. If you didn’t come across for the weekend, and were wishing you had of, I highly recommend it next time around. The city of Adelaide was alive and thriving; every corner you turned there was a footballer, media personality, fans from every club, Sherrins flying through the air and an atmosphere only rivalled by Grand Final week back home. Our boys made their home in Glenelg, and besides from looking fabulous in the new retro jackets, they were getting amongst it and seemed to be enjoying themselves. The first quarter was a sloppy affair. Maybe the occasion got to the lads in the beginning, as we found the opposition more by foot than we did our own players. We hadn’t played like that for quite some time and it made for frustrating viewing. There were several moments where we broke free and went forward, only to hit the chest of a Collingwood defender standing by themselves. The Pies pressure rating was high, but they too were coughing up clanger after clanger. Neither side could grab any momentum or ascendancy and at quarter time the scores reflected this, each team registering 2.2 for the term. From the ground, Matteus Phillipou was everywhere. He had one kick and seven handballs for the term and really set up play for us, firing out handballs from packs after collecting the hardball. Hunter Clark was another who stood up early, kicking one of our two goals and showing off some silky-smooth Nicky Dal Santo-esque moves. The way he is able to gather a ball in dispute and weave out of traffic is truly impressive. The star of this quarter was definitely Brad Crouch, who slotted home our first for the day and had ten touches.
In the third Collingwood seemed to be controlling play but couldn’t find any breathing room on the scoreboard. They had eight shots at goal to our three but come the siren the margin was still only six points. Hammer was our avenue to the big sticks for the quarter, kicking our only two goals. One of them came from a great contested mark, leaping high and using his Stewy Lowe like hands, and the other came from good team hustle and spread, transitioning from one end to the other quickly and running into an open goal. He had the option to handball to Gresh but chose to kick it himself, which is perfectly fine. Gresh didn’t seem too thrilled about it and didn’t really celebrate with Hammer, but Gresh was having a down day and only finished with seven touches, which off the top of my head might be his lowest tally ever? Or at least since his first year. Bobby Hill was the only player on the ground to finish with three goals and we found him hard to stop. Paton was on him for a while and probably lost that battle. Speaking of Battle, holy moly that man was immense. He clunked 13 marks, with 11 coming in the first half. He lost his way a bit in the second half but never stopped trying. Collingwood jumped out of the blocks in the fourth and put us to the sword, we were unable to match their intesitity and cleanliness with ball in hand. It took them fourteen seconds to put the first on the board and then a minute later they capitalise don our clanger kick and Ash Johnson put one through and all the momentum was flowing their way. After brad Hill turned it over in the middle of the ground they went 26 points up with seven minutes to go and it was as good as goodnight. That stretch in the fourth quarter was our only legimate lapse for the game and it proved costly, but not before we fought back form the jaws of defeat. With two minutes left, Higgo kicked a set shot, then Byrnes dribbled one through and Crouch kicked one on the run from 50 and with fifty seconds to go there was one goal difference. In the end, we didn’t get the chocolates, but we left it all out there.Wilkie is currently a lock for All Australian. At the ground even Pies fans were talking about how good he is. Crouch had nine clearance and sixteen contested possessions for the game and is the key cog in our engine room in Steele’s absence. Nathan Murphy came off the ground injured in the last after a fight with Hammer, and Hammer might find himself in some hot water over that. But with Membery and Steele available for selection next week, the cavalry is arriving. The Blues await us next week in what will be a huge clash and a huge opportunity to take some lessons out of this week and really stamp our authority on the competition.
Disappointing loss, but nothing to be upset by. Go Saints.
Tiff’s votes 3 – Crouch 2 – Wilkie 1 – Clark