Nathan Buckley gives Heath Shaw some advice. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoJust when he was starting to feel at home at Collingwood recruit Clinton Young is now facing another nervous wait to discover if his frustrating season will again be interrupted by injury.
The former Hawk looked as if he belonged in just his second game in the black and white on Friday night, collecting 21 disposals, five inside 50s and four rebound 50s during the Pies hard-fought 27-point win over Adelaide at the MCG.
However the 27-year-old wingman finished the game with ice on his hamstring and cause for concern after relaying to the medical staff that he felt pain in the area after sprinting late in the final quarter.
Pies coach Nathan Buckley said they did not know how badly Young had injured his hamstring, however he said the early indicators were not promising.
“He’s an experienced player and he knows his body pretty well and he doesn’t like what it feels like,” Buckley said of Young, who had to wait 15 rounds to get his chance because of a variety of injuries already this year.
“We haven’t got any confirmation, but clearly he was quite disappointed at the end of the match. He is definitely a player that has had a frustrating season,” he said.
The Pies have a ready-made replacement to step up in Harry O’Brien, whose spot as an attacking link between defence and attack has been effectively filled by Young in the last two weeks, while O’Brien has battled highly-publicised personal issues.
If another potential injury setback for Young was the negative out of Friday night’s win, the positive was Scott Pendlebury.
The classy midfielder amassed a career-high 42 disposals (16 contested possessions), had 14 score involvements and kicked two late goals to lift his team to victory when Adelaide threatened to steal the match with a gallant last-quarter fightback.
Buckley said Pendlebury was entering that bracket of elite midfielders who had the ability to overpower any tagger in any game.
“You sit back in the box and the eyebrows go up,” Buckley said.
“He’s had a very strong season, he’s been able to withstand the tag basically week-in, week-out,” he said.
“His contested ball numbers suggest that it is pretty hard to stop him because he really dictates the contest.
“And to be able to finish with a couple of goals, one on the left from 50, one on the right from 50, it almost looks too easy.”
Pendlebury was assisted by teammate Dane Swan, who drew Adelaide tagger Nathan Van Berlo in the second half after gathering 22 disposals in the first half.
Dayne Beams also got through his first game back after missing the first 15 rounds with a serious quadriceps injury, and Buckley said he was pleased with his comeback, which included 25 disposals and four clearances.
“He actually looked stronger and got better as the game wore on,” the coach said.
“His touch is excellent. He will be better for it.”
If there was another concern for Collingwood aside from Young, it was the goal-kicking of Travis Cloke.
Although he got plenty of the ball, taking 11 marks to go with 18 disposals, the Pies power forward finished with just 2.5 from nearly a dozen shots at goal – barely making the distance or spraying several shots from in or just outside 50.
Cloke struggled to gets his hands on the ball early, however came into the game when Ben Reid moved forward and spread the defence.
For the second week in a row, key defender Reid sparked a resurgence after going forward, booting two crucial goals and finishing with seven inside 50s, however Buckley said he did not have any plans to move the swingman close to goal on a permanent basis.
“Right now, I think Reidy going forward is something in our back pocket, it’s not a one-wood. It’s not our main choice, at this stage,” Buckley said.
At 10-5 and having won five of their last six matches, the Pies have the chance to push for a top four spot over the next two weeks with back-to-back games against Gold Coast (away) and Greater Western Sydney (home).
However Buckley’s message after the game was that his team needed to fix its slow starts after the Pies were again blown out in the opening minutes against the Crows and conceded a big lead, just as they did against Carlton the week before.
“If you give the opposition a sniff, it just makes it harder yards to get the game back on your terms and then control it from that point on,” Buckley said.
“Regardless of the opposition, we just need to be playing our brand of footy from the opening siren . . . we’ve just got to keep concentrating on playing our best footy for longer.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.