Magpie Scott Pendlebury is tackled by Richmond's Ben Griffiths in Wangaratta
SIZZLING performances from Richmond's 'big three' midfielders has inspired the Tigers to a 48-point drubbing of Collingwood in the NAB Challenge clash in Wangaratta.
Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin all had 30-plus possessions with Cotchin booting four goals and Deledio slotting two.
If Richmond coach Damien Hardwick's new game plan is to see more goals from his midfielders, he certainly would have been pleased.
Cotchin managed just six goals for the entire 2013 season.
After losing to Melbourne in their NAB Challenge opener, the Tigers were very impressive against the Pies, kicking seven final-quarter goals after the Pies got within five points in the third quarter. They won 1.17.13 (124) to 1.10.7 (76).
Reece Conca was also outstanding in his first game back from the hamstring tendon tear he sustained in the Tigers' finals loss to Carlton last year.
He only played the first half but racked up 16 touches and won five clearances.
Brandon Ellis played well on the wing and across half-forward while Martin collected his 32 disposals across half back and spent time on Scott Pendlebury in the second quarter.
But it was far from doom and gloom for Pies coach Nathan Buckley.
His plan to play Ben Reid alongside Travis Cloke in his forward line this season also paid dividends with the two combining for eight goals.
It was Reid's first competitive hit-out for the year after the Pies took a conservative approach to his pre-season following a calf injury.
The Wangaratta native drew a variety of opponents with Jake Batchelor spending the most time on him in the first half and Troy Chaplin after the break.
But nothing could stop the 2010 premiership defender as he marked strongly, moved well and had no trouble finding the goals
Cloke also looked fit as he kicked three goals despite the hard work of David Astbury.
Concerning for the Tigers was a lower leg injury sustained by Batchelor in the dying stages of the second quarter.
He was helped from the ground as the teams left the field for the main break and struggled to put weight on his left leg.
He didn't return after the half-time break with the injury later revealed to be a corked calf.
Ricky Petterd and Jake King played minimal minutes in their first hit-outs for the year – Petterd collecting 10 touches through the midfield before the main break and King coming on for the third quarter.
The small forward, whose off-season has been coloured by his infamous relationship with biker Toby Mitchell, started slowly but had a few flashy moments, setting up Tyrone Vickery for one of his four goals in the third.
For the Magpies, Dane Swan and Pendlebury found plenty of the ball; Swan looking slim in his first game for the year as he racked up 26 possessions.
Alex Fasolo, also in his first game for 2014 after the foot injury that wrecked last season, played across half back and was solid.
Brodie Grundy rucked with the help of Quinten Lynch after the late omission of Ben Hudson and caught the eye twice in the first half for giving away 50m penalties
after run-ins with Matt Thomas.
Wangaratta Showgrounds looked superb as the Tigers and Magpies played their NAB Challenge game there
WHAT WE LEARNEDCollingwood
: A fit Clinton Young is a solid acquisition for the Magpies' midfield. The ex-Hawk, whose first season in the black and white was ruined by calf and hamstring problems, impressed with some bursts out of the middle and delivery with his accurate left foot – one of which hit Ben Reid on the chest directly in front of goal. While Reid clearly looks good in attack, questions remain over whether his presence up forward robs Collingwood's backline of experience with Lachie Keeffe, Jack Frost and Nathan Brown left to curtail the big forwards in his, and Nick Maxwell's, absence. Richmond
: The Tigers regrouped after last Friday night's surprise loss to Melbourne
and showed they can be competitive despite the absence of key players Jack Riewoldt, Ivan Maric, Chris Newman and Daniel Jackson. Their midfield depth has also increased with targeted recruiting – Matt Thomas and Anthony Miles have shown they can win the ball and will easily slot in when called upon, while mature-age former VFL forward Sam Lloyd brings something new to their attacking structure.
: The Pies had no new faces but got another game into recruits Tony Armstrong, Jesse White and Jonathon Marsh. Armstrong wasn't prolific but White took six marks and took the ball inside 50 four times. Marsh started as the substitute and showed a bit in the minutes he got after half time including an impressive run down tackle in the middle of the ground. Richmond
: Former Port Adelaide midfielder Matt Thomas was the Tigers' only new face after the omission of Nathan Gordon from the extended squad. He gathered plenty of the ball when he wasn't antagonising Brodie Grundy and worked hard in the middle, proving he'll give the midfield depth if injuries strike. Sam Lloyd, who played in the Tigers' first game against Melbourne for nine disposals and five marks, nailed a long goal in the first quarter and ended the game with two. Former Giant Anthony Miles, who is vying for a senior list upgrade before the start of the season, began as substitute in the first half and finished with 18 touches after coming on in the third quarter.
COLLINGWOOD 0.3.0 0.7.2 0.10.4 1.10.7 (76)
RICHMOND 0.5.6 1.8.8 1.10.12 1.17.13 (124)
Collingwood: Reid 5, Cloke 3, Mooney 2
Vickery 4, Cotchin 4, Lloyd 2, Deledio 2, S. Edwards, Griffiths, Houli, A. Edwards, McDonoughBEST Collingwood:
Reid, Pendlebury, Kennedy, Ball, Elliot, Langdon, Young, SwanRichmond:
Cotchin, Deledio, Martin, Ellis, Conca, Vickery
Batchelor (corked calf
Umpires: Schmitt, Meredith, Wenn, Hay
Official crowd: 11,000 (approx) at Norm Minns Oval in Wangaratta