AFL 2 years ago

Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs Match Preview (NAB Challenge)

  • Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs Match Preview (NAB Challenge)
  • Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs Match Preview (NAB Challenge)

It's not long now until the start of the 2016 AFL premiership season, with just over two weeks until the first round begins. First though, there's one more weekend of the pre season to get through, with several more NAB Challenge games being played around Australia.

On Saturday at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs will come together to round off their preparations for the regular season. The two clubs have each played two games so far in the pre season with varying results.

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The Bulldogs had an easy win over the Giants in their opening game and looked set for another against Melbourne on Saturday before the Demons over ran them late to win by 12 points.

The Magpies have won both of their games in similar fashion, producing big third terms before holding on to win by small margins against quality opposition, in Geelong and North Melbourne.

Of course Collingwood are looking to get back into the finals in 2016 something which the Bulldogs achieved in 2015, although they did lose their first final and were knocked out straight away.

With this being the last hitout before the season starts both teams are sure to field strong squads on Saturday.


The Magpies pre season form has been impressive, especially when you consider that they are yet to field anything close to their best 22 in any given game. The win over Geelong in their opening game included a stunning 11 goal third term, which is yet to be matched in the entire NAB challenge by any other team. The win last Saturday over North Melbourne up at Wagga Wagga was more workmanlike but none the less impressive. In stifling heat Collingwood at times dominated the midfield battle versus a side that has been to the last two preliminary finals. Levi Greenwood and Taylor Adams especially thrived against a physically tough Kangaroos midfield and it was arguable as to which was best on ground on that day. Up forward Corey Gault (3 goals) continued his very impressive pre season and is really pushing for a rookie upgrade and selection in round 1 versus the Swans.

Before last season began, senior coach Nathan Buckley made the bold comment that he wanted his side to be the best at transition play in the entire league. Last season they didn't even come close to that, but what the young Pies have shown in the NAB challenge is that they are heading in the right direction. It is clear as day to see that this Collingwood outfit is going to move the ball quicker and more direct than they have in previous seasons. Ranked 1st for using the boundary and last for scores from defensive 50 in 2015 there had to be a shift of mindset and approach coming into 2016. What that should translate into is more one on one chances for the Magpies talented forwards. There's always been the complaint that the Pies bomb the ball in to Travis Cloke who then has 3 defenders hanging off him, and it's mostly been true. That should change in 2016.

The biggest positive of the NAB challenge so far for the Pies though is the lack of any new injuries, especially in games. The last few seasons Collingwood has gone into the regular season missing a plethora of players that were key to its' chances. This season, with only Jamie Elliott, Tyson Goldsack and Jeremy Howe ruled out for round 1, they are tracking much better on the injury front.

With a relatively healthy list Collingwood should field a very strong squad versus the Dogs with the likes of Swan, Macaffer, Brown and Williams all certain to come in. Finally the Magpie army will get to see Adam Treloar too, after the star recruit got through a VFL practice match unscathed last Sunday. The ex Giant impressed two before leaving the ground after the three quarter time huddle to get ready for this game. It is the last chance for the coaching staff to get a real guide on who is ready to play in round 1 so you'd expect a strong performance from the Pies no matter who is out on the field.


Going into season 2016 the Western Bulldogs are arguably the most exciting prospect. They are a young side on the up as they showed last season and there's clearly more improvement in their list yet. The standouts of course at the irrepressible youngsters Jake Stringer and Marcus Bontempelli, Entering their 3rd and 4th seasons respectively there's very few clubs who have two players like this that you would pay money alone to watch. Of course there's plenty of other talent on the Dogs list and while they couldn't manage to win their first final since 2010 last year they did show that their future is indeed bright. The Dogs pre season has been average, they've been impressive in patches but senior coach Luke Beveridge has hinted that he will play his strongest team yet this Saturday versus the Pies.

Many see the Dogs apparent weakness as being their defense. While they seem to lack key defenders outside of Jordan Roughead what their defensive unit does best is rebound the ball if the opposition can't score at the first opportunity. With the likes of Murphy, Wood, Boyd, Johannisen and a new addition in Matt Suckling the Dogs are as good as anyone in turning defensive inside 50's into scoring opportunities at the other end. Adding Suckling, a multiple premiership winner with the Hawks, to that already damaging rebounding defense can only mean bad news for any forward line that fails to take it's first chance with a forward 50 entry.

The Bulldogs ability to score is well known, and with the assistance of that mentioned defense as well as a strong midfield they ranked 4th for total points in 2015. They should improve again on their attacking output in 2016 as some of their youngsters have more experience under their belt. The one addition that might help comes from within the club. Tom Liberatore, who was in the elite category for clearances in season 2014 missed the entire 2015 campaign after suffering a knee injury. Liberatore adds grunt and drive to a midfield that at times last year struggled when it came to winning the contested ball.

With the Western Bulldogs likely to field as strong a team as possible on Saturday it really will give us a good look at just how far this team might be able to go in 2016.


1. Alex Fasolo, 2. Jordan De Goey, 3. Brent Macaffer, 7. Adam Treloar, 8. Tom Langdon, 10. Scott Pendlebury, 11. Jarryd Blair, 13. Taylor Adams, 14. James Aish, 15. Jarrod Witts, 16. Nathan Brown, 17. Jonathon Marsh, 18. Travis Varcoe, 19. Levi Greenwood, 22. Steele Sidebottom, 25. Jack Crisp, 26. Marley Williams, 28. Ben Sinclair, 30. Darcy Moore, 31. Jackson Ramsay, 32. Travis Cloke, 34. Alan Toovey 36. Dane Swan, 37. Brayden Maynard, 43. Adam Oxley, 44. Corey Gault, 45. Jack Frost

Notable absentees: Brodie Grundy, Matt Scharenberg, Jamie Elliott, Ben Reid

1. Matt Suckling, 2. Robert Murphy, 3. Mitch Wallis, 4. Marcus Bontempelli, 5. Matthew Boyd, 6. Luke Dahlhaus, 7. Lachie Hunter, 9. Jake Stringer, 10. Easton Wood, 11. Jack Macrae, 13. Nathan Hrovat, 15. Tom Campbell, 16. Toby McLean, 17. Tom Boyd, 21. Tom Liberatore, 23. Jordan Roughead, 24. Shane Biggs, 25. Koby Stevens, 30. Joel Hamling, 32. Kieran Collins, 33. Marcus Adams, 35. Caleb Daniel, 38. Dale Morris, 39. Jason Johannisen, 42. Liam Picken, 43. Jack Redpath, 46. Lin Jong

Notable absentees: Jed Adcock, Will Minson, Tory Dickson, Fletcher Roberts, Mitch Honeychurch





Score from forward 50 entry

18.6% -  12th

22.7% -  1st

Forward 50 entries



Score from centre bounce

10.6% -  13th

8.8% -  18th

Wing ball movement use

31.7& -  17th

34.7%  -  1st

Kick rating

-0.2% -  12th

+0.9% -  5th

Marks inside 50

13 -  5th

10.9 -  12th

Pressure differential

+0.06 -  5th

-0.07 -  15th

Defensive one on one (against)

24.4% -  2nd

31.8% -  15th

Forward one on one (for)

30.2% -  4th

25.2% -  16th

All clearances



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