Magpies ready to cash in

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - SHAYNE HOPE SUN­DAY JUNE 3 2018 THEMERCURY.COM.AU

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.”

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