1. Thursday night goes off in Perth
The AFL had to be rapt with the quality of game as the Thursday night experiment hit Perth for the fifth time. The joint was buzzing all night with the only downside coming when smoke from the pre-match fireworks failed to clear for several minutes. The 6.10pm start on a workday saw many fans arrive late but the heat of the game was matched by the intensity of the purple army with a healthy sprinkling of the black and white crew. Definitely one worth persisting with, Gillon.
2. Sandilands v Witts
Freo’s 211cm, 119kg walking lamppost Aaron Sandilands faced another man monster in Jarrod Witts, who himself weighs in at 111kg and stands an imposing 209cm. The 32-year-old Sandilands had the experience but the 22-year-old Magpie lacked nothing in spirit. He set up a goal to Alex Fasolo in the second term after Sandilands dropped a mark and didn’t take a backwards step all night. In the end big Sandi took the points with his 50 hit-outs but it wouldn’t surprise to see the tables turned in the next year or two.
3. Not just goals for Cloke
Subiaco Oval hasn’t been kind to Collingwood spearhead Travis Cloke over the years. In nine previous games Cloke had booted just 13 goals and his record against Freo was moderate with 18 goals from 11 matches. He didn’t add to his goal tally but “goals scored” don’t always tell the story and Cloke’s high workrate found out Luke McPharlin for much of the night. He also had to contend with Garrick Ibbotson as well on many occasions and was among the Pies’ best.
4. Varcoe, 150 of the best
He made his mark in 138 games at Geelong but Travis Varcoe may have found his most consistent form in his 12 matches at Collingwood this season. Geelong fans have a warm place in their hearts for Varcoe, after his heroics in both the 2009 Grand Final – when he rifled out the handpass to Paul Chapman for the winning goal – and in 2011 when he booted the opening two goals of the game and added a brilliant end-to-end snap late. However, Pies fans are learning to love him too. His 150th game on Thursday night was notable because of his astonishing winning record. Going into last night his 81.88 per cent winning record (122 wins-27 losses) was the best of any player who hadd played more than 100 games. And his milestone match was one of his best with fierce tackling, savage attack at the contest and sure ball handling the features.
5. Pavlich nearing the end?
We’d love to see Matthew Pavlich get a flag before he calls it a day but it might have to be this year or never. He started the season well but his form has tapered a fair bit in recent weeks. He went goalless in the previous two weeks and made it three in a row against the Pies. He hasn’t gone three games without a goal since early in 2011 when Freo only won nine games. Pav was pretty good in the second half but he turns 34 later this year and like McPharlin at the other end desperately needs Freo to hurry up and grab that first premiership. Three-time runner-up coach Ross Lyon would be pretty happy to break through as well.