IT WILL not go down as the most brilliant performance under Nathan Buckley's watch, but Collingwood has bounced back from its Anzac Day defeat with an important 26-point win over St Kilda.
In a scrappy, and at times ugly, contest at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, the Magpies did what they needed to do against an injury-hit St Kilda line-up to record their fourth win of the year.
St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt threatened to turn the game his side's way with a brilliant last term but it was not enough, with Collingwood running out 15.13 (103) to 11.11 (77) victors.
Five talking points: Collingwood v St Kilda
Dale Thomas was a standout for the Magpies, with 34 disposals (at 85 per cent efficiency) and eight marks in a new role off half-back.
Having lost running defender Alan Toovey to a season-ending knee injury last week against Essendon, Buckley shifted Thomas to defence
, and the move paid immediate dividends.
Alongside Heath Shaw (22 touches), Thomas created, set up the play, organised his teammates, rebounded and cut off some of St Kilda's forward forays. When Scott Watters' side was pressing in the fourth term, the premiership midfielder was calm under pressure and offered a cool head.
Thomas and Shaw were two of few Magpies to stand out in the game, with St Kilda's defensive press restricting the Magpies' renowned drive.
Click here to vote for the three best Collingwood players from the game
The Saints' game style had undertones of Ross Lyon's coaching stint at the club, but it worked, and cut down the Magpies' propensity to use the middle of the ground as a springboard to attack.
Gradually the Magpies wore down that wall, and despite four goals, 11 marks and 19 disposals to Riewoldt, the Saints didn't have the polish to stick with Buckley's side.
"We just got more aggressive with our ball movement (in the second half)," Buckley said post-game.
"We spent most of the week speaking about our defensive intent and how we were going to go about that, and it's a very natural reaction to try and take focus off other areas of the game that we need to do well.
"We probably just got too careful with our ball use in the second quarter, but we opened that up a little bit and got the balance right in the second half."
St Kilda's fifth loss of the season is likely to come at a cost.
Not only was veteran midfielder Lenny Hayes a late withdrawal
after complaining of calf tightness in the warm-up, but defender Sam Gilbert was helped from the ground in the third term after appearing to hyperextend his left knee.
Gilbert went straight down to the rooms, was subbed out of the game shortly later and will have scans on Sunday
Forward Justin Koschitzke is also set to face scrutiny from the match review panel for an off-the-ball high hit on young Magpie Jamie Elliott in the second term.
Elliott was grounded by the blow and left the field for medical attention on the bench. On Twitter, Elliott's injured teammate Dayne Beams described the incident as "fairly weak
" before the tweet was subsequently deleted.
Watters said the loss was another example his side needed to play full four-quarter games.
"To beat good sides it's more than three quarters, you've got to go the full distance," he said.
"You have to capitalise when you have your set shots, when you have your opportunities. There's some good stuff to take out of it but we want to be a club that strives to beat the good sides and you need to go the full distance. It's a good learning experience for a lot of our players."
Click here to vote for the three best St Kilda players from the game
A week after suggesting some of his teammates were "cheating" with their work-rate, Scott Pendlebury collected 28 disposals, while key target Travis Cloke kicked 4.5 in a powerful showing against Rhys Stanley.
Jack Steven (21 disposals) continues to show encouraging signs for the Saints, while former Fremantle defender Dylan Roberton had 21 touches as he impresses at his new football home.
Collingwood's Travis Cloke celebrates one of his four goals with gusto on Friday night. Picture: AFL Media
COLLINGWOOD 3.4 5.7 10.10 15.13 (103)
ST KILDA 3.2 5.5 8.9 11.11 (77)
Cloke 4, Jolly 2, Pendlebury 2, Seedsman 2, O'Brien, Blair, Krakouer, Clarke, Dwyer
Riewoldt 4, Siposs 2, Gilbert, Milne, Roberton, Koschitzke, Armitage
Thomas, Pendlebury, Swan, Macaffer, Cloke, O'Brien, Shaw
Riewoldt, Steven, Geary, Montagna, Armitage, Roberton
Lenny Hayes (calf) replaced in the selected team by Jack Newnes, Sam Gilbert (left knee)
Ben Kennedy replaced Jarrod Witts in the third quarter
Brodie Murdoch replaced Sam Gilbert in the third quarter
Rosebury, Stevic, Ryan
40,071 at Etihad Stadium
Follow AFL website reporter Callum Twomey on Twitter at @AFL_CalTwomey.