Werribee has endured a tough night at the office at Avalon Airport Oval, going down to Collingwood by 53 points.
Lacking the midfield class of Matt Hanson – a late withdrawal due to illness – and the inside grunt of the injured Ethan Petterwood, the home side found itself on the back foot early against a Magpies outfit boasting the AFL experience of Daniel Wells, Alex Fasolo, and Levi Greenwood.
In the fading first-quarter light, the visitors controlled the contests and kept the ball locked inside their forward half, steadying after some early yips to kick seven of the first eight goals of the match.
When Fasolo sent through a miracle set-shot conversion from tight in the pocket early in the second quarter, Werribee found itself 42 points in arrears and effectively left to attempt to play catch-up footy for the remainder of the night.
Werribee senior assistant coach Jeff Andrews said a lack of defensive pressure and ineffective ball use proved costly to his side.
“Collingwood got some goals on the scoreboard early, and from there, we were chasing them all night,” said Andrews.
“They moved the ball into their forward line a bit easier than we would have liked.
“Then when we fought hard and got ourselves into a position where we could do some damage with the ball going inside 50, we probably turned it over a few too many times and made it really hard to defend.”
While it was the Magpies’ night, Werribee showed glimpses of the sort of football it wants to play and on several occasions threatened to claw its way back into what was an often-fiery contest that saw tempers flare over on a number of occasions.
Led by Dom Brew, Kurt Aylett, and Ben Moloney in the middle, the home side got on top of the clearances and tackle count in the second quarter and began to play the game on its terms.
A spectacular mark on the wing to first-gamer Joel Bennett and subsequent kick from the play-on to find Matthew Munro in a vacant square looked to be just the spark Werribee needed.
Bookended by strong marks and goals to Josh Corbett, it helped cut the margin to 23 points early in the third quarter.
But Collingwood again wrested back the advantage to slam home six straight goals approaching the final change to open up an even 10-goal advantage and effectively ice the contest.
To their credit, the hosts refused to lie down, Corbett the instigator for another scoring flurry either side of the break as Werribee looked to stamp some authority on the final term.
But a Nick Coughlan screamer deep in defensive 50 proved to be the only remaining highlight for the black-and-gold faithful, Collingwood’s two late goals yielding a final-quarter stalemate and taking any remaining wind out of the Werribee sails.
Skipper Michael Sodomaco led by example as his side’s standout player, his combination of run-and-carry and work around the contests netting him 24 disposals, four clearances, and three inside-50s.
Tom Gribble (a team-high 27 disposals and a goal) Ben Moloney (18 disposals and a team-high nine tackles) were also among Werribee’s best in the middle, while Sam Collins (19 disposals and 12 marks) stood tall down back as Dane McFarlane (20 disposals) and Ryley Barrack (17 disposals) helped drive the hosts’ defensive rebound.
At the other end of the ground, Corbett continued to shine as Werribee’s standout forward with his straight kicking and strong marking both in the contest and on the lead, his four goals taking his season tally to 13 from four games.
After back-to-back tough losses, Werribee now sits at 1-4 and in need of a win to re-ignite its season.
It now has the bye weekend to freshen up but will face another big assignment when it takes on Footscray in the last of its run of five straight home games on Sunday, May 20.
Werribee: 1.0 5.3 6.6 8.9 (57)
Collingwood: 5.5 8.9 14.14 16.14 (110)
Werribee: Corbett 4, Gribble, Hooper, Munro, K Declase
Collingwood: Wellings 3, Fasolo 2, Gallucci 2, Lynch, Smith, Daicos, Chippendale, Madgen, McLarty, Close, Sier, Wells
Werribee: Sodomaco, Collins Gribble, McFaralen, Moloney
Collingwood: Mihocek, Sier, Wellings, McLarty, Greenwood, Madgen