INCOMING Collingwood coach Steve Symonds had a heck of a job ahead of him in 2020, tasked with taking charge at the biggest club in the land on the back of a one-win season. But his Magpies improved out of sight on their 2019 effort, storming to four wins in a couple of scintillating blocks of form and very nearly causing a mammoth finals upset against North Melbourne. With a strong spine and core of leaders aiding the development of their less-experienced outlets, the Magpies became a fun team to watch as they moved the ball stylishly in transition. Relive the highs and lows of Collingwood’s campaign in our season review, with a nod to their most outstanding players – including a league-high five All Australian squad members.
RECORD: 4th (B), 4-2 (0-1 finals), 153.7%
R1: defeated West Coast by 27 points
R2: defeated Carlton by 15 points
R3: lost to Fremantle by 3 points
R4: lost to Melbourne by 20 points
R5: defeated Western Bulldogs by 32 points
R6: defeated Brisbane by 29 points
SF: lost to North Melbourne by 2 points
The Pies made a hot start in 2020, first knocking off newcomer, West Coast on home turf and following it up with an outstanding win over Carlton in Round 2 – their first-ever. But a tight loss to Fremantle upon their maiden interstate trip made it hard to back up against Melbourne in Round 4, making it consecutive losses as the early-season momentum fizzed. But on trend with their up-and-down year, the Magpies bounced back emphatically to blow the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane back-to-back. It set up a big clash against the Roos come finals, where Collingwood fell just short of causing a boil-over.
SEASON HIGH: First-ever win over the old enemy
It was fourth time lucky – if that’s even a thing – for Collingwood in its quest for an AFL Women’s win over arch-rival, Carlton, with this year’s crop finally managing to topple the Blues on enemy territory. The triumph gave fans a glimpse of their side’s best form, with the Magpies transitioning sharply to overwhelm the usually well-set Carlton defence. The run-and-gun style would produce one of Collingwood’s highest totals for the season, while Stacey Livingstone infamously accounted for Tayla Harris up the other end.
SEASON LOW: Brazill’s crushing knee injury
There is hardly anything more crushing in sport than seeing the game’s brightest stars go down with injury, but that was exactly the case as Ash Brazill was rubbed out with an ACL tear in Round 4. The key defender’s injury against Melbourne all-but ruled her side out of the contest, with the Magpies unable to recover against Melbourne in the 20-point loss. Brazill was having a typically influential season to that point on the back of her groundbreaking 2019 campaign, and will surely continue to be a vital cog in Collingwood’s back five.
FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:
Jaimee Lambert (22.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 6.4 tackles, 4.6 clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, 349 metres gained, 3 goals)
Lambert has a strong case for being the competition’s best player after a 2020 season which was nothing short of remarkable. As Collingwood’s prime mover through midfield, the 27-year-old led the competition for disposals and inside 50s, while also leading her club for metres gaines, contested possessions, clearances, tackles, and score involvements. She was duly recognised with All Australian squad selection as one of the more astonishing individual performers.
Brittany Bonnici (19.6 disposals, 3.6 marks, 4.3 tackles, 3.4 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 256 metres gained)
The diminutive midfielder was let off the chain in 2020, transitioning from her usual run-with role to become a star ball winner in her own right. A mainstay in the Magpies’ engine room, Bonnici was incredibly consistent after a steady start to the year, with her standout game coming against Brisbane (26 disposals) as she showed all of her tenacity going both ways.
Bri Davey (20.5 disposals, 72% disposal efficiency, 2.5 marks, 5.3 tackles, 4.7 clearances)
Davey was the most highly-touted recruit across the whole competition heading into 2020, and the former-Blue transitioned seamlessly into the black and white stripes despite an early injury scare. After going down clutching her leg in Round 1 and missing the next week, Davey bounced back strongly to average over 24 disposals in her last four outings. Does all the tough stuff and can play anywhere.
Steph Chiocci (15.6 disposals, 76% disposal efficiency, 3.6 marks, 3.1 tackles, 2.9 inside 50s)
A new lease on life and different gamestyle allowed Chiocci to shine in 2020, with the inaugural Magpies skipper tearing it up on her customary wing across all seven games. It was without a doubt Chiocci’s best season to date, tallying career-highs in disposals, marks, and inside 50s in her two-way bossing of the outside territory. Went at a handy 76 per cent efficiency too, adding class to her hard-edged style.
Chloe Molloy (13.3 disposals, 4.6 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1.9 inside 50s, 6 goals)
The former prized draft pick returned to senior footy with a bang, providing a reliable outlet at either end for the Magpies in 2020. While her best position may still be up in the air, Molloy was particularly dangerous as a key forward – shown best in her game-breaking three-goal performance against the Western Bulldogs in Round 5. The 21-year-old was a vital part of the Magpies’ spine, and will continue to be for years to come.
Sharni Layton (10.1 disposals, 2.4 marks, 2.7 tackles, 17.1 hitouts, 2 clearances, 1.1 inside 50s, 3 goals)
A relative newcomer to the game, former-Netball star Layton showed what a year of development can do for an athlete in claiming All Australian squad honours in just her second AFLW season. The larger-than-life ruck not only refined her craft in that area, but also managed to have an impact inside forward 50 with three goals. With international sporting experience behind her, Layton’s value lies deeper than her ever-evolving footballing ability.
Stacey Livingstone (9.9 disposals, 2.4 marks, 1.6 tackles, 4.1 rebound 50s, 5.6 intercept possessions)
Don not let the most talked about moment of Livingstone’s season take away from the bigger picture, as the 32-year-old key defender put in absolute shifts for her side each week. The intimidating 176cm foundation Magpie upper her rebound game in the face of Brazill’s absence, and often took the opposition’s best forward out of the game. Led her club for intercept possessions and rebound 50s to boot.
It is hard to label the four-win season as anything but a roaring success after Collingwood’s 2019 effort, and the rejuvenated squad looks to be headed in the right direction. Symonds’ new run-and-gun gameplan has the Magpies looking like a slick unit, and their exciting brand suits the stock they have. With a solid core and formidable spine, Collingwood is set up well to continue to push for finals football.