COLLINGWOOD has slammed on 11 goals in a match-winning third quarter to defeat Geelong by just eight points in a high scoring first round of the NAB Challenge at Simonds Stadium.
Cats recruit Patrick Dangerfield had the first kick of the game and asserted himself at times to be among Geelong's best.
He kicked three goals, including one on the three quarter-time siren, and also created a goal for Tom Hawkins with an intercept.
Nerves never a Danger
Zac Smith also showed his huge leap at centre bounces, which should bring a grin to the faces of Geelong's fleet of midfielders.
But the exciting performances from the new Cats weren’t enough to grab a win.
After being 21 points down at half-time, the Magpies went on a rampage kicking nine straight goals to take the lead from the Cats.
Just when Collingwood looked home, Geelong kicked five of the last six goals of the game to drag the margin back to eight points.
A desperate final two minutes entertained the large crowd but the Magpies hung on.
In the defining third quarter the Magpies won the ball from the centre and kicked to the hot spot in front of goal or beat the Cats on the fast break, with four goals coming from centre breaks.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was pleased to have a number of solid contributors across the four quarters.
"We probably weren't with the flow of clearances for a little while [and] we gave up too many scored from forward-half turnovers," Buckley said.
"We thought they defended well and we weren't able to move the ball out of the back-half well enough, but when we did we scored well."
Corey Gault, who was one of four Magpies introduced to the game in the second half, kicked three goals in the third quarter, as did Dane Swan as he went inside 50.
Gault took over from where American rookie Mason Cox had left off, dominating in the air inside 50.
Cox was the talk of the game at half-time, taking four marks and kicking two goals.
The tall duo had great support at ground level from Swan and Alex Fasolo who played with great intent throughout and showed his class around goal when given half a chance with five goals.
"To kick that score without Darcy [Moore] or Travis [Cloke] in those key roles just shows you it is method and not personnel," Buckley said.
The Cats attacked solidly but struggled to find synergy in defence and did not apply as much pressure as would be expected in the premiership season.
Both teams introduced players at half-time, with Geelong bringing on Nathan Vardy and Jordan Murdoch while the Magpies brought on Gault, Alan Toovey, Jarryd Blair and Brent Macaffer.
Geelong assistant coach Matthew Knights said the game was a good spectacle and they were pleased with the hit-out.
"It was unusually high scoring, particularly for this time of the year. I thought it was pretty hot in the contest as well for most of the night," Knights said.
"It was a nice night for footy, pretty hot in the contest and pretty free flowing. I'm not sure we'll see every game like that down here at Simonds, but it was the way it worked out tonight."
WHAT WE LEARNED
Geelong: The Cats have enormous talent on their list but still need some work to create the synergy that makes teams great. They attacked well but were not great defensively in the first and third quarters, allowing Collingwood to run the ball out of defence too easily. The challenge between now and Easter Monday against Hawthorn is settling the team into a rhythm.
Collingwood: Mason Cox has a great pair of hands and showed he will be hard to beat as a deep forward if the Magpies move the ball quickly. He took four strong grabs and kicked two goals. The Magpies might be tempted to let Travis Cloke (who didn't play) roam far and wide while Cox plays deep. With several stars missing it was hard to get a read on Collingwood from one outing but Jordan De Goey shapes as a talented regular.
Geelong: After sharking the first centre bounce Patrick Dangerfield just shook out the cobwebs. He looked dangerous when he went forward kicking three goals and had 28 disposals. Zac Smith has a good leap, kicked a supergoal and might give Geelong midfielders a dominant tap ruckman for once. Lachie Henderson played in defence and took time to find his touch but he will be a handy replacement for Jared Rivers. Sam Menegola kicked a long goal soon after coming on the ground, however, his joy was short-lived as he left the ground with a leg injury in the second quarter.
Collingwood: James Aish has class but it was the tackle he laid on Corey Enright early in the third quarter, leading to a Brent Macaffer goal, that would have impressed most. He played on the wing, was prepared to work both ways and looks a good pick-up. Mature aged rookie Josh Smith played well in the first quarter before being forced from the ground with a leg injury in the second term.
The Magpies head to Wagga to play North Melbourne. Expect some of their big names to return, including skipper Scott Pendlebury and key forward Travis Cloke. Geelong heads to Shepparton to play Essendon. It might be the game it decides to give some of its youngsters a taste of senior football, although given the number of new faces the Cats will want their best team playing together.
GEELONG 0.3.1 1.9.3 1.12.5 2.16.9 (123)
COLLINGWOOD 0.3.1 0.6.3 0.17.5 0.21.5 (131)
Geelong: Smith, Menzel
Geelong: Dangerfield 3, Vardy 2, Hawkins 2, Duncan, McCarthy, Menegola, Cockatoo, Gregson, Menzel, Kersten, Murdoch, Stanley
Collingwood: Fasolo 5, Swan 3, Gault 3, Blair 2, Cox 2, Grundy 2, Macaffer, Greenwood, Sidebottom, Witts
Geelong: Dangerfield, Duncan, Horlin-Smith, Cockatoo,
Collingwood: Sidebottom, Cox, De Goey, Fasolo, Swan
Geelong: Menegola (knee meniscus), Bews (shoulder)
Collingwood: Smith (ankle), Broomhead (arm)
Umpires: R. Chamberlein, D. Harris, S.Ryan, A.Mitchell
Official crowd: 20,460 at Simonds Stadium
Jarryd Blair, Dane Swan and Alex Fasolo celebrate an impressive win over the Cats. Picture: AFL Media