Brent Macaffer kicked the match-sealing goal for the Magpies on Sunday
A TOUGH second half from Collingwood enabled it to run out 16-point winners in a classic round one encounter against North Melbourne on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
The Kangaroos stormed home in the last 10 minutes as Collingwood tired, having lost Ben Johnson at half-time with a leg injury and Ben Reid midway through the third quarter to concussion, but could not bridge the six-goal deficit Collingwood had opened up early in the final quarter.
Talking points: North Melbourne v Collingwood
The Kangaroos drew within 10 points with two minutes to play but a Brent Macaffer goal with less than a minute to go sealed the four points for Collingwood.
The final scores were Collingwood 15.13 (103) to North Melbourne 13.9 (87).
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It was a fine effort given Collingwood played three first-gamers in Sam Dwyer, Josh Thomas and Jack Frost after Dayne Beams was late withdrawal and then Heath Shaw fell ill in the warm-up.
Travis Cloke kicked four goals in a dominant display up forward.
Scott blasts North's 'terrible' ball use
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said it was good to get the four points with so many hiccups in the lead-up.
"We had a poor week in regards to things not going our way but we discussed before the game that it's not really what happens to you it's what you do about it," Buckley said.
"We've prepared the depth of our list [to fill voids] and we weren't perfect – but it was a gritty win and a great effort from all 22."
The first half was played at a frenetic pace with tough battles for the ball in tight and explosive sequences of play once the ball was won and found its way into the open.
The lead kept changing in the first half and most turnovers were pounced upon and created shaky moments for nervous defenders.
Inside battles between Andrew Swallow and Jack Ziebell for North Melbourne and Scott Pendlebury and Josh Thomas – who had seven clearances at half-time on debut – were pivotal.
Pendlebury's class was probably enough to give Collingwood a one-point lead at half-time. He had 19 disposals, a goal and one highlight where he sidestepped his opponent and hit a leading Travis Cloke for a Collingwood goal.
Cloke's marking power became more important as the game wore on and players from both sides tired. He was the most dominant forward on the ground, having six shots at goals. North Melbourne's three tall forwards failed to fire with Lachlan Hansen, Robbie Tarrant and Drew Petrie kicking four goals between them.
By contrast, Ziebell threw his kicking leg like an Olympic hammer thrower might sling a hammer, going long and deep inside 50. The Kangaroos were tough and desperate but just lacked a touch of class going inside 50.
Scott lamented that fact and said it was a key reason his team lost.
"It wasn't through lack of winning the ball or lack of winning clearances – our midfield performed well," Scott said post-match. "We were just terrible with our ball use going forward and couldn't make them pay."
Collingwood could rely on the class of Steele Sidebottom and Pendlebury, who played well, and runners off half-back in Nick Maxwell and Alan Toovey.
In the first half the bombing worked with North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas – often maligned for his poor kicking for goal – kicking four goals straight before the 20-minute mark of the second quarter.
But in the third quarter the Magpies took control kicking 4 .4 (28) to 1.3 (9) and looked all over North Melbourne.
However when Ben Reid was knocked out (after he and Lindsay Thomas clashed heads) and taken off, the Magpies knew they would have to dig deep to protect its 21-point lead in the final quarter.
They did so but not without a few nervous moments. However, it would be happy to take the four points and move on to the big game against Carlton in round two.
Thomas' incident will be looked at as he took his eyes off the ball to shepherd Reid and they clashed heads when they made contact.
Travis Cloke kicked four goals for Collingwood in its big win over North Melbourne on Sunday. Picture: AFL Media
NORTH MELBOURNE 5.2 8.4 9.7 13.9 (87)
COLLINGWOOD 3.5 8.6 12.10 15.13 (103)
North Melbourne: Thomas 4, Hansen 2, Cunnington, Bastinac, Tarrant, Gibson, Goldstein, Mullett, Petrie
Collingwood: Cloke 4, Sidebottom 3, Lynch 2, Goldsack 2, Pendlebury, Blair, Swan, Macaffer
North Melbourne: Swallow, Ziebell, Thomas, Atley, Wells, Cunnington
Collingwood: Cloke, Maxwell, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Swan, Toovey
North Melbourne: Nil
Collingwood: Beams (quad) and Shaw (illness) replaced in selected side by Thomas and Frost; Johnson (corked left quad), Reid (concussion).
North Melbourne: Liam Anthony replaced Ben Jacobs at three-quarter-time.
Collingwood: Sam Dwyer replaced Ben Johnson (cork) at half-time.
Umpires: McBurney, Bannister, Foot
Official crowd: 41,040 at Etihad Stadium