How do the Collingwood Magpies win games they shouldn’t?

How Collingwood’s results compared to expected results based on statistics that project the outcome, albeit hypothetically.Credit:age

So there is an element of mystery to Collingwood’s recent wins.

The pattern of Collingwood’s (second) game in Melbourne was similar to Carlton’s breakout. The Demons had 24 more forward drives, won clearances by an incredible 22 (21-7 from center) and possessed the contested ball by “just″⁣ 24.

Elite ball users off defense are an important part of Collingwood’s success.Credit:Getty Images

Yet there were also a string of narrow wins at Collingwood that the Pies should have won with more comfort than their under-two-goal norm. In their dozen wins in 13 games, the top five – Fremantle, Carlton (Round 11), Hawthorn, Melbourne (Queen’s Birthday) and Greater Western Sydney – were quite different from those three return games against their old foes.

In discussing Collingwood’s unusual close-meeting season, senior and assistant coaches from rival clubs observed a series of themes or traits.

These were, in no particular order, that the Magpies defended exceptionally well, that they were the transitioning elite of defense – using a style of play similar to Richmond’s fast and furious method. They had elite ball users Nick Daicos and Scott Pendlebury, as well as interceptors such as Darcy Moore, Jeremy Howe and Brayden Maynard, whom Leppitsch called “a wrecking ball” and likened to a brave and brutal defender of his day. , the great North Glenn Archer.

And while the Pies don’t have a Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay or Tom Lynch in their forward line, coaches noted they have a diverse lineup of dangerous forwards in Elliott, Brody Mihocek, Jack Ginnivan and their surprising six Ash Johnson players.

Jamie Elliott and Jack Ginnivan are part of a dangerous Magpie attack.

Jamie Elliott and Jack Ginnivan are part of a dangerous Magpie attack.Credit:Getty Images

They tended to take risks when trailing late in games and made those audacious plays with composed and efficient use of the ball, via Pendlebury and the Daicos brothers, and pinpoint conversions, as in the results of Melbourne, Carlton and Essendon. Nathan Buckley’s most striking comment (on SEN) about his former team was that even though they were losing clearances, they were excellent at winning the first fight after a clearance – whether in defense or attack.

A senior coach from a rival team observed that the Pies appeared to be winning with a different method at the start of their 11-game streak. “They were playing more of a half-forward game earlier in the year and they’re playing more of a half-back game now.”

Leppitsch acknowledged that was the case and that they would rather play with the foot in their attacking territory – like in the Fremantle game and the early games against Carlton and Melbourne – than defend in their defensive territory, as they did. had done recently.

“There are games we thought we should have won more of and there are games we stole during that time,” Leppitsch said.

“There were games where we ran the clock really well and won, and then there were times we ran the clock badly and won, when we had these leads, like the Giants game, and that we still won.

“The important thing is that we have the victories at the end. Look, I’ve never been involved with a team like this in 30 years in the game…

“I don’t think you can underestimate the non-statistical things that we do well, which is staying spiritually in games and also managing the moments and managing the clock.”

Leppitsch felt it was more useful to examine Collingwood’s neighborhoods – which varied wildly – ​​rather than just the games. The just-completed Carlton game was an example of this, with the Pies conceding two goals in the first half, but eight to one in the third term when Cripps and co broke the play-off wall.

He said some neighborhoods have high performance in the 50s and low efficiency, others on the contrary. “We certainly have a lot of inconsistencies in the numbers between games.”

The end result, however, was an unprecedented collection of narrow wins.

Was there a unifying theme this season? “I think it’s the belief,” Leppitsch said.

An opposition coach noted that the creed also impacts the opposition. “They believe they’re still in it and that belief is rubbing off on the opposition.” Their adversaries know they are coming.

Leppitsch and others within Collingwood’s football department are under no illusions that they hum perfectly, given the shortcomings they have overcome.

“Some of our big chunks don’t fly very well – when it comes to half-time and stoppage scores and some of the stuff you usually see as premiership indicators, we’re an anomaly on those fronts,” said Leppitsch, who saw parallels with 2017’s Richmond (where he was also a defensive coach), but also major differences due to personnel, such as Richmond’s three conventional small forwards and Collingwood’s distinction of skillful wingers, Josh Daicos and Steele Sidebottom.

The Tigers also had Dusty Martin and Jack Riewoldt in their glitz.

“The beauty is that we don’t get too bogged down in numbers because we know that managing the moments and what’s in front of us is the most important thing,” Leppitsch said.

Collingwood’s Houdini act may not continue in the final. Or maybe. There is still something about this team, over the past 13 weeks, that is hard to pin down or explain. They even defied their own expectations from pre-season and games.

“We’re doing things that largely defy that logic,” Leppitsch said.


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