Travis Cloke has warmed up for the new season with a six-goal bag against the Suns
DESPITE the thrilling finish to Sunday's practice match at Metricon Stadium, coaches Guy McKenna and Nathan Buckley were only taking notice of the first half between Gold Coast and Collingwood.
The Suns led by 41 points at half-time, but inspired by six goals from Travis Cloke after the break, the Magpies stormed home to win 16.15 (111) to 14.13 (97).
After the match, McKenna described the first two quarters as the best he'd seen by the Suns in their brief history.
"That was probably the best half of footy I've seen us play since the club's been formed. That was really exciting," McKenna said.
"I was just super impressed with that first half and that's the take-home message for the boys."
However, Buckley said the Magpies simply didn't turn up to play in the first half, but showed what they could really do after the break when their intensity lifted.
While Buckley was pleased Collingwood turned things around, he said his team was a long way off the pace ahead of its round one match against Fremantle on March 14.
"The win is irrelevant to be honest," Buckley said. "The question we need to answer is how do you play so poorly at the beginning, when that (superior) effort is clearly there at the end?
"There's no relief, there's just further evidence and ammunition that we need to go back and explore why we started like that, because if we get more of the second half effort for four quarters, we'll be pretty hard to beat."
The Suns were rampant through the middle of the ground in the first two quarters, against a listless Collingwood that still looked on holidays at the back end of a five-day training camp on the Gold Coast.
They were terribly fumbly, with Dane Swan dropping a simple chest mark and Steele Sidebottom having his kick-in from a behind smothered and booted back over his head for a goal by Brandon Matera.
Michael Rischitelli (17 disposals) and Dion Prestia (16) lead the way for the home team that played without skipper Gary Ablett, who was rested after burning the top of his hand in a cooking accident.
After Rischitelli and Prestia were rested in the second half - Jaeger O'Meara also sat out the final quarter - things fell apart for the Suns as the star-studded Collingwood midfield took over.
McKenna said watching Scott Pendlebury (26 disposals), Dayne Beams (24) and Swan (23) come to life against his second-string midfield was not a fair fight.
"I think you're comparing apples with oranges in the second half," he said.
With an increased supply, Cloke was brilliant after half-time, monstering Suns defender Steven May to kick four goals in the third quarter and another two in the fourth.
Fellow tall forward Jesse White was also influential, kicking three goals in the second half, including two early in the last to put his team in front.
Charlie Dixon kicked four goals for the home team, but the Suns appeared to run out of legs on a hot Gold Coast afternoon.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was an interested onlooker, watching the game alongside his assistant Peter Sumich.
The Dockers play Collingwood in the opening game of the season on March 14, followed by the Suns in round two.
COLLINGWOOD 0.5 3.10 10.13 16.15 (111)
GOLD COAST 5.4 10.9 12.11 14.13 (97)
Collingwood: Cloke 6, White 3, Clarke, Sidebottom, Young, Swan, Pendlebury, Maxwell, Kennedy
Gold Coast: Dixon 4, Matera 2, Stanley 2, Rischitelli 2, Shaw, Sumner, Hall, Boston
Collingwood: Cloke, Young, Pendlebury, Beams, Swan
Gold Coast: Stanley, Dixon, Matera, Rischitelli, Prestia
Gold Coast: Nil
Umpires: Meredith, Mitchell, Pannell
Official crowd: 4830 at Metricon Stadium