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AFL Rd 1 - St Kilda v Collingwood

‘That’s a stunning number’- Pies young faces surpass Saints #AFLSaintsPies

Weeks ago, I predicted Collingwood will finish eighth after finishing 17th in 2021.

I’m no longer a crazed lunatic after seeing a new-look Magpies side cruise to a 17-point win against a valiant St Kilda.

The sluggish, dour Pies game plan that ended Nathan Buckley’s employment mid-year last year was gone. The Pies dominated the Saints in the third quarter, scoring three goals in six minutes to expand their advantage to 34 points.

The Saints had a run on late in the third period that briefly saw them lead in the last, but there was no doubt who was the stronger team.

The Pies’ tackling pressure re-energised, winning many holding the balls and causing more turnovers to score five of the last seven goals.

“Enjoy seeing Collingwood 2022 do it. “It’s fantastic,” said James Brayshaw after the game.

With Oliver Henry’s last goal, the Magpies surpassed the 100-point threshold for the first time since 2021 – a clear indication of how McRae wants his team to play.

This year, captain Scott Pendlebury says, it’s all about plunging into the Collingwood mayhem.

McCrae has been embracing the game’s faults, Pendlebury stated post-match.

A new brand for us, but we’re embracing it.

“We have a long way to go, but he is very encouraging. Even at the half, it was all about taking the game to the Saints.

“We wanted to score, and I think we created some opportunities.

“Our first ten minutes of the third quarter were exhilarating, but we lost power for the following 15 minutes, but we fought back and won the final quarter.”

Like Carlton’s triumph against Richmond on Thursday night, the Magpies barrackers screamed (like all barrackers should) after the final siren.

Not for the first time that night, you might have been excused for forgetting it was a St Kilda home game as the iconic ‘Collingwood’ shout rang across Marvel Stadium.

“We got the Blues last night, and now we’ve got the Collingwood chant going. “Footy!” GARY LYON ON FOX FOOTY

The Pies’ victory should instil confidence in Lyon’s supporters, as it did for the Blues’.

As a Collingwood fan, you go to the game and hear plenty of rhetoric about change and how it’s a new start, and you clutch your breath hoping it happens.

“You leave tonight with a new perspective.”

The pressure gauge reached heights reminiscent of the Tigers at their suffocating best, according to former coach Nathan Buckley.

“‘Pendles’ spoke about embracing chaos, and we knew Richmond did,” Buckley said.

“That’s presumably what ‘Fly’ [McRae] brings. Going forward off the ball more, and St Kilda was often offside. They got more of the ball, which allowed them to score.

“Overall, Collingwood’s second-half pressure was above 200, which is excessive.

In the second half, the heat was on St Kilda players. Collingwood lifted when they needed to, depending on ball-winning and pressure.”
The Pies’ explosiveness out of the middle often caught the Saints’ defenders off a surprise and unprepared.

The Pies would score 5.2 (32) to 1.2 (8) from the centre clearances, a crucial aspect in a contest that ebbed and went.

“That’s a startling number,” Lyon remarked.

“6-6-6 has had a huge impact,” Buckley said.

Getting a clean possession out of the centre clearance will offer your attackers an opportunity to win one on ones.

“For much of the night, when the score was equal, Collingwood forwards outclassed St Kilda defenders.”

Former Saints midfielder Jordan De Goey thrived in a position that has shown potential but has yet to produce, while veteran Jeremy Howe masterfully marshalled a defence that looked tiny on paper but held the Saints’ tells in check.

Max King kicked 1.3, but Howe’s poise, excellent foot skills, and elite high marking – he pouched another pair of hangers beneath the ceiling – were essential in a contest when few players could be trusted to identify targets.

“His value to this site cannot be overstated, and he returned superbly tonight. Aerial skill, ball usage, placement, and certainly leadership,” Lyon added.

Buckley seemed a little sad when he said Howe had fully recovered from his injuries and was ready to go when the going got tough in 2021.

After only playing 12 games the last two years due to injuries, this is one of the first times he has looked well.

“Even in his 12 games, he was labouring. It’s a wonderful indication for Collingwood going ahead to see him leap for the ball like this.
No player on the pitch performed better in the first period than newcomer Patrick Lipinski, who had 30 disposals and a goal. Only Taylor Adams earned more contested possessions than Lipinski, who was unable to break the Bulldogs’ ultra-deep middle due to an ankle ailment.

“He’s a natural,” Buckley remarked.

”Won his ball, used it destructively, and applied excellent pressure when required.”

Lipinski’s shift to the AIA centre earns plaudits from St Kilda star Nick Riewoldt.

“It works well. Look for those that are hungry for opportunity, not necessarily unhappy. Just like Collingwood did with Lipinski,” Riewoldt added.

Nick Daicos, the Magpies’ most-hyped first-gamer in a decade, wasn’t far behind. While his initial kick went right to Mason Wood for the opening goal, the youthful star regained his composure and ended with 27 disposals.

In comparison, his famed father got 26 in his debut 42 years earlier. A good start.

But for Riewoldt, Daicos was just one of the Pies’ rising players who helped them win.

“I believe Collingwood was hard to gauge heading into this season because they had so much elite quality – Pendlebury, Taylor Adams, De Goey, and all these boys,” Riewoldt said.

“I think the younger guys shone tonight. Ginnivan, McCreery, and Henry all had great games for Daicos. This ensemble gave you a look into the future.”

Despite the loss, the Saints found a standout in pre-season supplemental choice Jack Hayes.

The dynamic big man was the trigger for the Saints’ barnstorming third-term finish, finishing with 18 disposals, three goals and a game-high 10 marks.

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