Magpies won't bait Barry Hall: Wakelin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies won't bait Barry Hall: Wakelin

By Adam Cooper 15/06/2009 08:41:43 PM Comments (0)

Former Collingwood backman Shane Wakelin believes the Magpies can do another defensive job on Sydney on Saturday night without baiting frustrated Swan Barry Hall.

Wakelin was part of the Collingwood defence that kept the Swans to miserable nights in the past three AFL games between the sides at ANZ Stadium and last year went within a whisker of copping a Hall punch when the Sydney spearhead's anger spilled over.

Hall was suspended for attempting to strike Wakelin that night and will again be looking for redemption on Saturday night after he conceded three 50-metre penalties in Sydney's last game, which cost the Swans to chance to beat Hawthorn in round 11.

But Wakelin, who retired at the end of last season, was confident Collingwood's sound game plan and ability to shut down the Swans would result in no need to needle Hall.

"Collingwood have got a very respective group of players who wouldn't go out of their way to ruffle him up too much," Wakelin said on Monday.

"If he gets frustrated and lets his frustrations out on some of the Collingwood players, well, I'm sure they'll bait him a little bit.

"But I think I know our players relatively well and there's not too many there who would go out of their way to stir him up on purpose."

Instead Wakelin believes Collingwood can again implement some of the measures that have been successful in recent years, such as preventing Sydney running off half-back, getting defenders in front of Hall and isolating Swans defenders one-on-one.

Collingwood have a great recent record against Sydney, having won the past encounters and past three at the Olympic Stadium, where they have strangled Sydney's scoring.

In the past three, Sydney managed just 2.10, 2.1 and 1.5 to half-time and were comprehensively beaten.

There will be a lot at stake when they clash this weekend, as both Collingwood (seventh, with a 6-5 win-loss record) and Sydney (10th, 5-6) are among the glut of teams in the middle of the ladder.

Wakelin said Collingwood would aim to prevent Sydney getting much run out of former Magpie Rhyce Shaw, or Martin Mattner across half-back, and then clog Sydney's forward half of the ground.

"That's one thing we always focused on, to nullify their run off half-back and slow down their play so that we had time to get numbers back in front of Barry Hall," he said.

"Then we had opportunities to get our wingers back in front of the dangerous leading forwards in Hall and (Michael) O'Loughlin."

Wakelin said Collingwood would be confident their key forwards John Anthony and Travis Cloke could trouble Sydney's defenders if they found themselves one-out and with space to work in.

"They're a backline that does work together, they're a very good unit, but if you separate them they can be a little bit fragile individually," he said.

"Guys like (Lewis) Roberts-Thomson and even (Paul) Bevan, they're slightly vulnerable one-on-one."

Wakelin expected Collingwood defenders Simon Prestigiacomo and Harry O'Brien to get the jobs guarding Hall and O'Loughlin, and was confident they could hold their own given their good form this season.

Prestigiacomo has conceded just 10 goals to opponents in 11 games and is in career-best form, to the point where he has been floated as a possible All-Australian, at 31 and in his 14th season.

"Clearly on statistics he's the in-form fullback of the competition, along with (Geelong's) Matthew Scarlett, who sets such a high standard," he said.

"There's no doubt he's never going to be a massive possession-winner, but every great backline requires a player who just does a job on the key forwards."

Wakelin said there would be little need for Collingwood to alter tactics that had been so successful.

"Collingwood are starting to run and handball off half-back a lot more, so Collingwood will be less predictable, which will add another bow to our game," he said.

"But I can't imagine too much else will change."

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