Shane Mumford gets front position in his ruck duel with Brodie Grundy. Picture: AAP
Shane Mumford gets front position in his ruck duel with Brodie Grundy. Picture: AAP

The Tackle: You can’t measure Mummy by stats

Shane Mumford didn't care what anyone said in the lead-up.

And he won't care what anyone says in the wash-up.

In between was an extraordinary evening at the MCG during which Brodie Grundy had 73 hitouts, the Giants won the clearances by 19 and Mumford came into his own in the pulsating last three minutes.

Mumford didn't win the game for the Giants, but he didn't allow Collingwood to win it.

From three minutes and three seconds on the clock until the final siren, Mumford and Grundy - both exhausted by match-long body-on-body contests - were involved in 13 passages of play.

It was gruelling and compelling, like watching a couple of silverbacks wrestling for territory.

Giants stoppage coach Amon Buchanan was succinct when asked about Mumford's final three minutes.

"Gee, he's old and banged-up, but just keeps going,'' Buchanan said.

"He was massive for us.''

As Collingwood gathered its energy, and the Giants their resilience, Mumford refused to yield.

Those final three minutes played like this in Collingwood's forward 50m:

3min 3sec: Ball-up in Collingwood's forward pocket. It is squared, but Mumford ensures Grundy goes to ground.

2.52: Mumford gathers the loose ball and is tackled.

2.48: Mumford attempts a smother while on the ground.

2.43: Boundary throw-in. Mumford loses the tap, tackles Grundy and the Giants win the ball.

1.46: Grundy fumbles a ground ball, Mumford lays the tackle, takes Grundy to ground and the ball spills free.

1.40: Ball-up and the contest is squared.

1.30: Boundary throw-in. Mumford wins the tap, Grundy wins the ground ball, which leads to a deliberate out-of-bounds free kick to Callum Brown.

 

Shane Mumford battles with Brodie Grundy. Picture: Getty Images
Shane Mumford battles with Brodie Grundy. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

 

1.07: Ball-up in the goalsquare. Mumford wins the tap, wins the clearance, baulks Scott Pendlebury, who doesn't attempt to tackle, and mongrels a kick to half-back.

52sec: Ball-up. Mumford wins the tap to Josh Kelly, who fumbles and is tackled by Jack Crisp. Mumford tackles Crisp.

41sec: Ball-up. Contest squared.

28sec: Ball-up. Mumford wins the tap to Nick Haynes, who fumbles, and Mumford dives at the ball and forces another stoppage.

18sec: Ball-up. Grundy wins the tap, Mumford falls to the ground and Haynes clears the ball to half-back.

4sec: Mumford shepherds Grundy from a loose ball and the siren sounds.

Siren: Grundy slumps to the ground and Mumford hugs injured skipper Phil Davis.

Buchanan and Mumford had a plan to combat Grundy, which was set in motion after Mumford was beaten by Brisbane's Stef Martin the previous week.

The outside noise was laced with doubt and negativity about Mumford, but internally at Greater Western Sydney, it was all about Grundy.

"It was a big week, building up to Grundy, who is also an animal,'' Buchanan said.

"His ability to nullify Grundy in the air, that was the plan. His ability to grind him down and the ability of our mids to keep locking up, resetting and then getting on top in clearances was good and Mummy was fantastic.''

 

Mumford throws himself in an attempt to smother Will Hoskin-Elliott. Picture: AAP
Mumford throws himself in an attempt to smother Will Hoskin-Elliott. Picture: AAP

 

 

One of the last messages Buchanan told Mumford in the rooms was to play smart.

"The big one was to play smarter, smarter and smarter, not harder all the time,'' he said.

"We know he gives his absolute all every week, but he had to be smarter, and I thought he played a smart game.

"Those last three minutes, the way he nullified any hitouts to advantage and a couple of big moments when he was on the ground … I've never seen him sell candy (around Pendlebury) on the last line before.''

Davis heaped praise on his ruckman.

"He's got one of the biggest tickers I've seen, Mummy, he's a special man,'' Davis told Channel 7.

The constant dialogue in the lead-up was how Mumford wouldn't keep up with Grundy, that he had no lateral movement, that he couldn't jump over a bucket and if Grundy dominated him, the Pies would skip into the Grand Final.

Grundy won 73 hitouts, but the Giants won the clearances, which led to the Giants outscoring the Pies 29-8 from this source.

The key was that Grundy won hitouts to advantage only 14-5.

Grundy was Collingwood's best player, it's just that at the end Mumford's ability to keep banging bodies and competing was crucial.

"All our mids walk taller when he's out there,'' Buchanan said. "He's a spiritual leader out on the field and they get on his back and go along with him.''

Mumford's manager, Anthony McConville, told the Herald Sun any criticism didn't worry Mumford.

"Everyone's been talking about how Grundy dominated, but Mummy was good. He's been very good over the past few weeks,'' he said.

"The criticism doesn't worry him at all. He is a true competitor. He might not have the same finesse as a few others out there, but he's got a lot of heart and soul.

"He's been Hercules over the past few weeks, just halving the contest, being around the ball, creating a pathway, creating mayhem.

"He has another challenge this week. (Ivan) Soldo and (Toby) Nankervis will try to work him over, but he will be up for the challenge.''

It's why the Giants love the 33-year-old.

And it's why he will play again in 2020.

He's reached a trigger in his contract that both parties are delighted about.

It could have been much different for the big man.

Mumford was on the verge of signing with Hawthorn at the end of the 2013 season after he was squeezed out of Sydney Swans for Lance Franklin.

The story goes that the Giants' list management gurus, Stephen Silvagni and Graeme Allan, were having a drink at Donnini's in Lygon St and refused to give up on Mumford.

They made a call, and another, and another. In the end the Hawks had about $450,000 on the table and the Giants eventually added another $200,000.

It screwed the Giants a bit at the time, but what they got in return was a popular team man and a savage competitor.

That was clearly evident in the final three minutes on Saturday.

 

 

LIKES

 

1. NICK HAYNES

Let's stop calling the Giants defender underrated because he's a hell of a backman. Haynes had 30 disposals for the first time in his career. Most unusual was he took zero intercept marks, as he's the No.3 interceptor in the competition. He's as adept at ground level as he is overhead. He played on an array of Collingwood forwards, but mainly Josh Thomas and Callum Brown. If not for Matt de Boer, Haynes just might be the player of the finals so far.

 

2. BACHAR HOULI

One day former Essendon coach James Hird will talk of the decision to let Houli go to Richmond. Privately, Hird admits he and the list management team at the Bombers got it wrong when they believed Houli's game wasn't cut out for finals football. He all but won the Norm Smith Medal in 2017, was All-Australian this year, and on Friday night was enormous when the Tigers trailed and instrumental when they surged. He is a masterful delivery man to whom the Tigers get the ball at every opportunity. Not only is he an outstanding runner, he's a superb reader of play. He had a game-high 32 disposals, a career-high 14 intercept possessions and 144 SuperCoach points (his best since 2016).

 

 

Bachar Houli starred in another final. Picture: Getty Images
Bachar Houli starred in another final. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

3. DON'T BE OBVIOUS

In the finals series, De Boer has held Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Neale and Scott Pendlebury to season-low disposal counts. He has an amazing mixture of discipline, smarts and application. It's a wonder every team doesn't employ a full-time tagger. Maybe he will be the trendsetter for 2020 and end the stranglehold of team defence, which often sees a dozen midfielders win 28-plus disposals in a game. De Boer could go to Dustin Martin this week after his wrecking-ball impact on Dusty in Round 3. De Boer said of Martin after Saturday's win: "He's a super player. He obviously plays midfield and forward, so we'll just see what the coaches have for me and, whatever I do, I'll do my best.'' Still, the Giants should consider going head-to-head with Martin and sending De Boer to Dion Prestia, who has had 30, 35, 31, 25, 29, 30, 32 and 28 touches in his past eight games - and two goals on Friday night.

 

4. YOU KNOW WHY?

Prestia - known as the "Human Meatball" - had one of the greatest second halves in a final for a midfielder. No one will top Anthony Koutoufides' final quarter against Essendon in 1999 (he racked up 125 ranking points in 30 minutes), but Prestia's effort can't be ignored. He had game-highs in ranking points (106), metres gained (478), inside-50s (six) and score involvements (seven) - and 15 disposals, which was second most on the ground. De Boer probably can't go with Martin when he goes forward, so Prestia might well be his target.

 

DISLIKES

 

1. MAGPIES MIDFIELD

Commentator Matthew Lloyd argued at the start of the season that the Collingwood midfield could be the best ever. But "could" is vastly different to "is". Simply, this midfield group hasn't got it done. The Pies narrowly lost last year's Grand Final and narrowly lost Saturday night's prelim. That's the difference between being very good and being great. Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams, Tom Phillips, Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom were all down on their season averages on Saturday. The Pies were collectively minus 14 in contested ball and beaten around the contest for three quarters.

 

2. BRODY MIHOCEK

The Pies will rally around him - and he might need that after putting in the least productive of his 40 games for the club. He was as important as any Collingwood player in the run home, being required to do a stack of heavy lifting as a key forward when Mason Cox was injured. But it didn't happen for him on Saturday. The 26-year-old had two disposals and three tackles and, although he competed strongly, the ball didn't fall his way. He was shut out of the game by Lachie Keeffe mainly and the super cool Sam Taylor. Keeffe, the former Magpie, is a story of misadventure, hard work and redemption, and might well become a premiership player at age 29. That would barely have been contemplated in 2015 when he was suspended for two years for drug taking.

 

 

Chris Scott played Mark Blicavs on the wing. Picture: AAP
Chris Scott played Mark Blicavs on the wing. Picture: AAP

 

 

3. MARK BLICAVS

Brisbane's Mitch Robinson recently wrote about playing wing and focused on the unrewarded running required from pocket to pocket. It was widely acclaimed for its analysis. When Chris Scott puts his best runner on the wing - who happens also to be his best key defender - the Geelong coach is accused of losing the plot. His rationale after losing Mitch Duncan to injury was sound. The Cats needed run and Scott and defensive coach Matthew Scarlett had confidence in the back six without Blicavs. Yes, Tom Lynch kicked five, and maybe Blicavs could have gone to him in the third quarter, but Blicavs' run was seemingly important. Let's hope the coach is open to further explaining his rationale.

 

4. MISSED BY THAT MUCH

Geelong led by 21 points at halftime and it easily could have been 35. It wasn't, and when the Tigers came calling, the Cats simply didn't have enough of what coaching great David Parkin was the first to dub scoreboard pressure. The Cats had careless misses, gettable misses and difficult misses:

Q1 13min: Esava Ratugolea, set-shot miss

Q1 28min: Tim Kelly miss

Q2 2min: Mark Blicavs,
set-shot miss (inexcusable)

Q2 4min: Joel Selwood,
miss on the run

Q2 7min: Zach Tuohy,
miss on the run

Q2 26min: Cam Guthrie, miss on the run.

 

 

Stream every match of the 2019 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

 

 

 

 

 

Stream every match of the 2019 Toyota AFL Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >