Magpies ready to cash in
COLLINGWOOD’S on-ball division will look to take full advantage of Fremantle veteran Aaron Sandilands’s absence to finally start reaping the rewards of Brodie Grundy’s ruck contributions at the MCG today.
Grundy has been in superb form this season and ranks equal sixth in the competition for hit-outs to advantage, winning those at 31.5 per cent of ruck contests he attends.
The Magpies rank equal fourth for clearance differen- tial (+1.8 a game), but experienced midfielder Steele Sidebottom conceded they could be doing better.
“Brodie’s in pretty good touch but us as mids potentially haven’t got as much bang for our buck as what we should have,” Sidebottom said.
“He’d certainly be in the positives for hit-outs to advantage, but maybe we haven’t taken full advantage of that.”
Fremantle, with Sandilands ranked fourth for hit-outs to advantage (35 per cent), is the competition’s top-ranked clearance team (+4.8).
However, inexperienced big man Michael Apeness will be called upon to shoulder the ruck duties.
Sandilands is sidelined after sustaining a concussion in a head clash with North Melbourne’s Sam Durdin last week. “Whenever the biggest bloke in Australia is ruled out, it’s obviously going to benefit us a little bit,” Sidebottom said.
Sidebottom conceded Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe was almost impossible to tag, with the 2015 Brownlow medallist back to his best this season after being cut down by leg injuries.
Fyfe presents a roadblock between the Magpies and their chances of a third consecutive win, which would see them lock down a spot in the top eight heading into the midseason bye rounds.
Collingwood used captain Scott Pendlebury as a stopper on Fyfe-like Patrick Cripps when it beat Carlton in Round 3. In-form bad boy Jordan De Goey and tough nut Taylor Adams could also be sent to try to negate Fyfe.
“He’s one of those guys where you probably don’t go to a tag because he’s too big and strong, and he can go forward,” Sidebottom said.
“We’ll obviously have to put some time into him but you almost put him down for his 30 [disposals] and a couple of goals and try to stop the other guys around him.
“He’s just one of those players who is probably at the peak of his game and he’s going to be hard to stop.
“We’ll have a few plans around to try to limit his impact.
“It’s good for our guys to go up against the best players in the competition and really challenge themselves and find out a little bit about where they’re at as well.”