Pies vindicated by Noble and Cox selection calls in Dees win

The biggest storyline in the lead-up to Collingwood’s 60-53 win over Melbourne in Thursday’s Qualifying Final was John Noble’s shock omission from the Magpies’ line-up.

Noble was axed by the Pies after playing 83 consecutive games as Craig McRae and his match committee went with the likes of Oleg Markov and Will Hoskin-Elliott to support the likes of Darcy Moore, Nathan Murphy, Brayden Maynard, Isaac Quaynor and Jeremy Howe down back.

SEN’s David King believes the Magpies were vindicated in their Noble decision after Hoskin-Elliott in particular had one of the best games of his career.

The versatile option was clean all night with 20 disposals (19 kicks), five marks, five tackles and 10 inside 50s.

“They made the right call,” King said on SEN Breakfast.

“Dropping John Noble was the 100 per cent right call because when you look at, Hoskin-Elliott going to half back. I thought that was the best game I’ve seen him play.

“He was absolutely terrific. They got full tote odds out of him.

“That backline has never looked as settled.”

Another selection call that drew attention was Collingwood’s decision to go with both Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox in wet conditions.

While Kane Cornes said pre-game he wouldn’t have picked the American, he believes the call to play him was right as he helped match Max Gawn early and collected a game-high 34 hitouts.

“I wouldn’t have played Cox,” Cornes said.

“I said that before the game, and at the time that was my belief.

“But in the end, they got the selection spot on.

“You’ve got to hand it to them they see everything behind the scenes and all of that and we get a view on it once a week from our position.

“They made the right call on that.”

Another big difference in the game was the effective of the small forwards at either end.

King believes the likes of Bobby Hill and Beau McCreery exposed Melbourne’s small defenders when the game was there to be won early.

“I also think Bobby Hill’s game it was refreshing to see him back himself like that, McCreery’s speed was important, but they just outran them,” King said.

“They were far too quick for the halfback flanker types of the Demons.

“They were exposed time and time again, particularly in the 1st 40 minutes when the game was at its hottest.”

Cornes agreed with King as he credited Hill’s accuracy in front of goal compared to his Melbourne adversary Kysaiah Pickett who was wasteful.

“When you compare Hill’s performance to Pickett in the same role,” Cornes said.

“Pickett had his opportunities squandered them. Hill had his opportunities, same number of disposals with 13.

“Bobby Hill kicked 3.1 to Pickett’s 1.3, that’s the difference in the game as well.”

Collingwood now prepare for a home Preliminary Final while Melbourne will face the winner of Carlton v Sydney in a Semi Final at the MCG next weekend.

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