Davis keeps impressing in defence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Davis keeps impressing in defence

Roger Vaughan 12/03/2011 02:50:52 PM Comments (0)

Going back has propelled Leon Davis' AFL career forwards.

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse and team-mate Heath Shaw heaped praise on Davis after his starring role in Friday night's NAB Cup final win over Essendon.

While Shaw won the Michael Tuck Medal as best afield, Davis was surely the best man on the ground to half time.

After Davis was dropped for the grand final replay last October, Malthouse put the challenge to the 204-game small forward that he needed to change his game.

Malthouse stresses it is still a work in progress, but Davis' move to defence has been a revelation for the Magpies during the pre-season.

"I said to Leon at the end of last year, he really needed to just do something different," Malthouse said.

"I suppose it was a gamble in many respects.

"It's still not over by a long shot."

One of Davis' key roles is to help out Shaw with the kickouts and they are working well together.

It is a great sign for Collingwood's premiership defence that they had several defenders missing from Friday night's team, but they still look rock-solid down back.

Captain Nick Maxwell, Nathan Brown and Ben Reid were all out of the team.

"There are going to be more options ... Lachie Keefe has stepped up, Simon Buckley has stepped up and Leon and obviously 'Taz' (Chris Tarrant) have come in," Shaw said.

"Competition for spots is going to be pretty tight ... if we don't improve, don't get better, then they will take our spot.

"Leon knows the game, his offence is amazing, we all know that, he uses the ball really well.

"But he showed (last night) a couple of times, his one-on-one contests are just up there with anyone.

"He's hard to beat, he's quick."

New Essendon coach James Hird also saw plenty to like, despite his team losing the game by 22 points.

It capped an encouraging pre-season for the Bombers, who have worked hard on the defensive side of their game.

Collingwood looked ready to smash Essendon in the second term, but they did not panic and only trailed by three points early in the last term before the Magpies kicked clear.

"There's no doubt we're not the first team to get monstered in pressure - (we) seemed to get pushed back when their press (came) on and they do it really well," Hird said of Collingwood.

"We were very proud of the boys (and) the way they came out after halftime and absorbed it and challenged Collingwood."

The two teams overall are well set for round one, with Essendon confident Alwyn Davey will return from an arm fracture against the Western Bulldogs.

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