Highlights: Collingwood v North Melbourne
The Pies and Roos clash in round 5
Travis Cloke played angry and reaped the reward as Collingwood cruised to victory
BILLED as the battle of the midfields, this was a no contest.
Collingwood dominated a lacklustre North Melbourne to win the Easter Saturday clash at the MCG by 35 points.
The Magpies finished with 13.15 (93) to the Roos’ 8.10 (58).
Collingwood outran and tackled harder than North Melbourne and used the ball better too.
The game was effectively over as a contest at half-time when the Magpies led by 33 points, a margin that flattered the Kangaroos.
Steele Sidebottom dominated on the wing, Alex Fasolo and Heritier Lumumba rebounded hard and fast, Dane Swan returned to his ball-winning best and key forward Travis Cloke started taking marks inside 50.
By half-time, Cloke had taken seven marks inside 50 and kicked 4.3 (he added one more behind in the second half).
Collingwood had applied 37 tackles to North Melbourne's 27.
And at the long break Collingwood had six players with more disposals than North’s leading possession getter, Ryan Bastinac, who had just 11.
We put a hole in North, says Buckley
When Collingwood charged at North Melbourne early and denied its runners time and space, the Kangaroos fell away quickly.
The Magpies forced turnovers and capitalised on them.
They denied North Melbourne the ball and kicked long and deep inside 50.
And they broke North Melbourne's belief in themselves and in each other.
For much of the game the Kangaroos were as predictable as a knock-knock joke.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott admitted Collingwood's pressure overwhelmed the Kangaroos and affected their ball use.
"We had a plan in place particularly after half-time to use the ball a bit better and we didn't so it wasn't as if we didn't have our hands on the ball," Scott said "I think we controlled time in possession so we just weren't efficient going forward."
Brent Macaffer took Nick Dal Santo and quelled his influence without having to be quite as negating as he had been in previous weeks when his tagging tactics have attracted headlines.
Buckley said the tagger was more critical of his own effort than the coach.
But it wasn't a performance that rested on one player. It was satisfying for the coach because each player contributed. And when North Melbourne tried to respond Collingwood was good enough to adjust.
"I thought it was a really consistent performance. I feel like we had to win the game twice," Buckley said. "We put a hole in North in the first half, but then they changed the way they wanted to move the ball which forced us to adjust our defensive attitude and we were able to do that really strongly."
North fails the pressure test, says Scott
The reality was North Melbourne's runners did not appear to want to work as hard as the Magpies' midfield when not in possession, and it was only a couple of Collingwood mistakes that allowed the Kangaroos to stay in touch.
Two late goals in the second quarter saw the half-time margin reduced to 33 points and give the Kangaroos' supporters some hope of a second-half revival.
However the third quarter saw the same pattern replayed – perhaps with a little less intensity – and players such as Sidebottom and Swan just kept racking up touches.
Collingwood should have put North Melbourne away but only held the line, kicking 1.3 to 0.4 for the quarter.
Sam Gibson battled hard and Ben Cunnington was industrious, but they did not get much support.
In fact, the Roos struggled to find a winner at all for the afternoon.
The Magpies started Luke Ball as the substitute after he suffered a bout of gastro during the week and he was introduced late.
By that time the job was done, as Collingwood toyed with the opposition and North Melbourne's structure fell apart.
The Magpies ended with 34 more disposals than North (412-378) and took 14 more marks inside 50 (21-7), as Nathan Buckley’s men stamped themselves as likely finalists.
Their win was even more resounding than the margin suggested.
"There wasn't much of a spectacle after half-time, but that's irrelevant," Buckley said. "We played the game on its merits and that was pretty pleasing for the coaches."
Collingwood's Jamie Elliott breaks away from North Melbourne's Brent Harvey. Picture: AFL Media
COLLINGWOOD 5.4 10.6 11.9 13.15 (93)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 5.3 5.7 8.10 (58)
Cloke 4, White 2, Beams 2, Elliott 2, Pendlebury, Lumumba, Goldsack
Thomas 2, Bastinac 2, Gibson, Currie, Greenwood, Harvey
Sidebottom, Swan, Lumumba, Pendlebury, Cloke, Elliott
Cunnington, Gibson, Harvey, Thomas
Adams (eye socket)
Luke Ball replaced Jarrod Witts in the fourth quarter
Ben Jacobs replaced Leigh Adams in the second quarter (concussion sub); Ben Jacobs replaced Daniel Currie in the third quarter
Scott Thompson (North Melbourne) reported for striking Travis Cloke (Collingwood) in the first quarter.
Margetts, Nicholls, Hosking
57,116 at the MCG