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Five talking points: Collingwood v Geelong

Highlights: Collingwood v Geelong The Magpies and Cats clash in round nine
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 21: Jarryd Blair (left) and Steele Sidebottom of the Magpies collide during the 2016 AFL Round 09 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Geelong Cats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 21, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Jarryd Blair helps Steele Sidebottom celebrate his 150th

1. Magpies' first-quarter massacre
Geelong had won six games in a row and was sitting comfortably in the top two. The Magpies were struggling at 3-5 and with coach Nathan Buckley seemingly under the pump. But that detail didn't seem to matter as Collingwood came roaring out of the blocks to kick seven goals to nil in the opening term. The Cats were shell-shocked as Jack Crisp (13 disposals), Steele Sidebottom (12) and Scott Pendlebury (10) ran riot in midfield in the opening term. With Jeremy Howe and Ben Reid controlling proceedings down back, this was a very different Collingwood to the one that was on its knees just a fortnight ago. They then showed enough resilience to hold off Geelong's powerful second-half charge.

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2. Howe down back pays dividends
One of the reasons Jeremy Howe left Melbourne was that Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley had the plan to play him primarily forward of centre. But after an injury-interrupted start to the season and a quiet few weeks up forward, the Magpies resorted to the old Paul Roos tactic of stationing the high-flyer down back. The move worked wonders for the Magpies. Howe was one of the club's best players against the Cats, with his intercept marking a feature. His precise ball use out of defence also provided an advantage as the Magpies continually spread Geelong's zone and forced it to defend. His last-quarter kick-in, up the guts, which led to Brodie Grundy's running goal, emphasised Collingwood's mindset of taking the game on.

3. Cats again struggle around the sticks
Geelong almost cost itself the game with atrocious kicking against Adelaide last week and its inaccuracy came back to bite them against Collingwood. There is no doubt goal kicking is a problem at the Cattery. The Cats kicked a wayward 13.20 against the Crows and followed that up with 3.7 in the first half against the Magpies. The misses, as they often do, came at inopportune times as Patrick Dangerfield, Jimmy Bartel and Daniel Menzel all wasted crucial shots late in the second term as the Cats were trying to get back into the contest. In the end, those missed chances cost the Cats the game. 

 
4. Man of Steele's milestone match
Steele Sidebottom has always been a big game player. So there was little surprise the midfielder rose to the occasion in his own 150-game milestone. In a game riddled with mistakes, Sidebottom's sharp decision-making and cleanness with ball in hand stood out. The smooth-moving Magpie had a game-high 31 disposals to go with nine marks. Sidebottom hit targets in pressure situations and he assisted a number of his teammates by putting them in high-percentage scoring positions.

5. Levi wins the battle of the 'woods
There was constant bickering and fighting and Levi Greenwood did not yield to Geelong skipper Joel Selwood all day. Greenwood has relished his defensive shutdown jobs this season and his contested brand of footy suits the role. Greenwood kept the Cats' skipper to 18 disposals and limited his ability to break clear from stoppages. As always, Selwood did not give in, but the Greenwood run-with role was vital in Collingwood's 24-point victory.

Levi Greenwood's effort on Joel Selwood was a big part of the Pies victory.  Picture: AFL Media







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