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After the siren: Why not Collingwood?

The 10: round 11's best moments The only highlights countdown that matters in football

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• Who fired or flopped for your team in this weekend's state leagues?

COLLINGWOOD brutalised Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on Sunday.

The Giants finished with no fit players on the bench and while some of the damage was as a result of friendly fire (Joel Patfull's rib injury), they were worked over by the Pies who then kicked away for the comprehensive win.

Both clubs were 7-3 entering the match, so at least on paper, it was Collingwood's best win of the season, although when quizzed afterwards, skipper Scott Pendlebury said the season-opening win at the Gabba and the comeback over North Melbourne a fortnight ago were equally meritorious.

There's a feel-good vibe about Collingwood, buoyed largely by the rapid improvement of the mid-tier players. Pendlebury mentioned Marley Williams, Adam Oxley, Taylor Adams and Jack Crisp before adding of everyone, "it's a real pleasure to be part of this group."

Said coach Nathan Buckley of Collingwood circa 2015, "I don't know if playing we're playing better footy, but we're more mature; it's a better group and a better club."

Of course, we've been here before. It was only 12 months ago that the Pies turned for home at 8-3, but won just three games from there to limp into 11th place.

But there seems to be a better feel to the Magpies a year later. They're fitter, the list bats deeper and the group genuinely feels like it enjoys playing with and for each other. At Collingwood of late, that hasn't always been a given.

If the Pies had their druthers, they'd probably like to keep playing. Four straight wins and plenty of self-belief is exactly the recipe needed ahead of their biggest test to date – Fremantle at Domain Stadium on Thursday week. Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and West Coast then follow. 

Given Fremantle's struggles in the last fortnight, it is hard to decipher whether the ladder leaders were coasting towards the bye, or in a spot of bother. But if the Magpies can spring the upset, then the pre-season comments of Magpie president Eddie McGuire will start to echo through the football world, words to the effect of, "Why not Collingwood?"

McGuire used to the opportunity of the season launch to ask the club to reach for the sky and so far this year, the Magpies have.

Worst minute of football ... reprised

During his hiatus from coaching, Paul Roos offered a memorable piece of TV football analysis when he broke down the calamitous final moments of Gold Coast's loss to Richmond at Cairns in 2012, the night code-hopper Karmichael Hunt kicked the winning goal after the final siren.

Expect his own team to be placed under a similar microscope in the next 24 hours.

Melbourne had the axe hovering over one of the great football hoodoos with a minute to play at Etihad Stadium on Sunday evening and were ready to smash it to smithereens. Winless against St Kilda in 10 contests and the loser of their past 20 matches at the Docklands stadium, a goal to Jeremy Howe put the Demons in front by four points with 41 seconds to go.

It was the first goal kicked by either side in what had been a remarkable final quarter, not one of any great quality but magnificent viewing all the same.

Yet in a matter of seconds, the Demons surrendered their hard-won lead with an unmarked Leigh Montagna running into an open goal for the match-winner

Talk will centre around on how Montagna got out the back on his own and Jack Steven's brilliance out of the middle after the Howe goal must be noted, but Roos was seen on TV after the go-ahead Melbourne goal gesticulating madly, pleading with more players to drop back into the defensive half.

It was reminiscent of the round two Essendon-Hawthorn game last season, when Mark Thompson watched helplessly as not enough players pushed back in the dying moments with the Bombers clinging to a narrow lead and sure enough, Cyril Rioli snapped the match-winner for the Hawks.

This one will be picked apart play by play, frame by frame and all Roos can hope for is that his players learn something from it. Melbourne supporters thought they had seen it all the last few years.

But they hadn't. 

Six things we learned from round 11 - the Demons don't know how to win

Mr Understated does it again

Over several weeks before the start of the 2014 season, players from every club visited the studio at AFL Media to take part in the filming of several of our video features for the season, as part of an agreement with the AFL Players Association.

The producers decided which players to target and also consulted with the clubs and player managers to determine which talent would be the most appropriate. And the message from Geelong in the summer of 2014 was quite clear.

"You should grab Corey Enright while you can," a Geelong staffer told us. "It might be your last chance."

We did. And he was very polished in front of the camera. But we were also misled by the Cats because Enright didn't retire at the end of last season and the way he's tracking, he won't be retiring at the end of this season either.

And why would he? In the cauldron of Adelaide Oval on Friday night, Enright was superb and practically impassable for the Cats in their 23-point win over Port Adelaide, their most impressive performance for the season.

As the heat map below shows, it was Enright doing what Enright has done for 299 matches, patrolling the back half and a feature of his effort on Friday night was his 16 intercept possessions. He has the skills, but he also has the smarts and it is his ability to read the play and anticipate what might happen that is a secret to his longevity.

Corey Enright's possessions against the Power on Friday night. Source: AFL Live Official App

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Next Sunday at Simonds Stadium, Enright will play his 300th game and a fortnight later after the bye, will have played the second most number of games for Geelong in club history. So many of the greats of the game have played for the Cats – Gary Ablett snr and jnr, Polly Farmer, Doug Wade, Matthew Scarlett, Garry Hocking and Sam Newman - to name a few and he has passed all of them.

It might be the most understated 300-game milestone in recent memory, but nevertheless, he has been a super player.

Great week looming for the Cats

Geelong people should enjoy this week. There's the Enright milestone to look forward to, the outstanding win over Port Adelaide to replay over and over again and there is also the growing realisation that for the Cats, the bottoming out process might have been completed and the climb back up the ladder might have already started.

There only seems to be upside for the Cats from here. They're developing Mark Blicavs into the prototype follower of the future. Ruckman? Ruck-rover? Who cares? All we know is that he is a mobile big man who creates headaches for the opposition that grow by the week the more he improves and learns about the game.

The Cats are turning the enigmatic Rhys Stanley into the sort of ruckman the Saints could only dream about when they had him, and Cam Guthrie, Corey Gregson and Darcy Lang are becoming the next wave of impressive Geelong midfielders.

Jordan Murdoch has stepped up in the absence of Mitch Duncan, while Jackson Thurlow is improving all the time.

They're redeveloping their own, the Cats, and they're also shaping as the major free agency players later this year. The football industry has Patrick Dangerfield signed, sealed and delivered to Simonds Stadium (a bye weekend spent by Dangerfield plastering social media with the sights and sounds of the nearby Bellarine Peninsula and surf coast only heightened that expectation) while Carlton's Lachie Henderson and West Coast's Scott Selwood are also reportedly on their way.

It would be audacious if Geelong could land all three, but the Cats generally goes about their business so well that who would put it past them? They have veterans on the way out and oodles of salary cap space. So watch this space in October, by which time the Cats are every chance to have played in the finals for the ninth straight season.

QUESTION TIME

 



Ashley Browne: Fremantle, Collingwood and GWS have impressed me so far as has St Kilda in patches, while the two Queensland teams have been the clear disappointments this year, although injuries have been a mitigating factor there. North Melbourne also has failed to take the next step this year coming off a preliminary finals appearance and appear miles off the best teams in the competition.

 



AB: You never quite know how the All Australian team will pan out. Players get picked in position most of the time, but there are occasions where they will find a spot for a player just because they want to squeeze him in to the side. At this stage the All Australian ruck berth is a race in two between Aaron Sandilands and Todd Goldstein. There is every chance that the selectors will pick both, one in the starting 18 and the other on the bench. But they might well nod towards the structure of the game in 2015 and reward Blicavs as well and name him as a the ruck-rover because in a side like that, with Sandilands and Goldstein as teammates, that is where he would play.