COLLINGWOOD'S boom recruit Adam Treloar has reinforced his enormous value with a best-afield performance in his first pre-season hitout.
Teammate Darcy Moore bagged four goals as the Magpies remained undefeated in the NAB Challenge, courtesy of a two-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
In a remarkable contest for a pre-season match, the Dogs – powered by dominant 33-disposal display from dashing defender Jason Johannisen and a three-goal effort from young key forward Tom Boyd – played the frenetic football that made them one of last season's bolters, leading by 40 points midway through the second term.
Full match coverage and stats
But the complexion of the game changed after half-time when the seemingly undercooked Pies upped their rotations, piling on seven successive goals to storm to an eight-point lead just 17 minutes into the third term.
Bulldogs sharpshooter Jake Stringer missed a flying shot in the dying moments as the Pies won 1.15.8 (107) to 1.14.12 (105).
Ex-Giant Treloar, whose only official match practice had been three quarters in the VFL last week, showed no sign of any lingering groin problems, amassing 26 disposals and two goals.
Treloar 'ready to attack' 2016: Buckley
After starting on the bench, Treloar was soon showing his class and work ethic, often starting a chain of handballs and getting on the end of it 60m downfield, as he did when he nailed a lovely running shot after 21 minutes.
Treloar later slotted a goal from outside the arc, and combined well with skipper Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Dane Swan and former Giants teammate Taylor Adams.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley was not surprised by Treloar's performance.
"He's put a lot of work in and he's in good shape. We couldn't be happier with his progress to this point and he's ready to attack the season," Buckley said.
The Bulldogs will sweat on the fitness of ruckman Tom Campbell, who left the field in the second term with a right foot injury and didn't return, raising a possible selection dilemma for the Dogs with veteran ruckman Will Minson nursing a hamstring strain that could sideline him for round one and Jordan Roughead being left out of the clash with the Pies.
However coach Luke Beveridge was confident Campbell would be right for the season opener.
"We've come out of it really healthy, besides Tom, (but) I think his ankle will be OK," he said post-match.
The Dogs coach said Roughead was still very much in the selection frame, and praised Boyd's efforts, describing him as "a very, very good ruckman" and a good, developing forward who would eventually become dominant.
High-priced Boyd has emerged as a possible ruck option after his impressive showing, with the talented 20-year-old contesting the first centre bounce and acquitting himself well around the ground.
Tom Boyd kicks a miracle goal for the Bulldogs
However, Boyd did his best work in attack, taking two superb contested marks in the first quarter, the second being a huge, floating pack mark in the goalsquare, which he converted.
At the other end, fellow forward hope Moore showed he might be ready to assume the key role of second tall forward alongside spearhead Travis Cloke, who had a quiet day, kicking two easy goals from the goal line in general play.
A major concern for the Pies on the eve of the premiership season was their sloppy play in the first half when they made numerous elementary skill errors, particularly in defence where a series of kicking blunders under little or no pressure provided the Dogs with scoring opportunities.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Collingwood: Good teams take advantage of basic skill errors, and the Pies had too many fumbles and missed kicks when under little pressure in the first half. In the third quarter their midfield got on top and the Magpies fought back, showing Collingwood can match it with the best teams in the middle.
Western Bulldogs: Opposition teams have had the whole pre-season to scout the Dogs' runners off half-back, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to stop. Robert Murphy and Easton Wood were All Australians last year, and Jason Johannisen is not far off raising his game to that level. The quick ball movement they provide helps create one-on-ones in the forward line, a situation Jake Stringer relishes.
Collingwood: Adam Treloar was involved in a scoring chain starting from half-back in the first quarter, finishing the play with a goal. Another burst through the middle in the third quarter saw Treloar kick perfectly to Darcy Moore while running flat out. Moore didn't convert but that combination should excite Collingwood fans. James Aish only came on in the last quarter, and didn't do much in the time he spent on a wing.
Western Bulldogs: Matthew Suckling showed how dangerous his kicking can be around goal in the first quarter, kicking a nine-pointer from 55m out on the wrong side for a left footer. Mature-age recruit Marcus Adams spent a lot of time on Travis Cloke, with Cloke only kicking two goals.
The home and away season beckons. Collingwood will play the Sydney Swans at the SCG on Saturday, March 26. The Western Bulldogs go up against last year's minor premier, Fremantle, at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, March 27.
A bit of luck as Mitch Wallis creates a goal from nowhere
COLLINGWOOD 0.3.3 0.5.4 1.12.7 1.15.8 (107)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.5.3 1.9.7 1.11.9 1.14.12 (105)
Western Bulldogs: Suckling
Collingwood: Moore 4, Varcoe 2, Gault 2, Cloke 2, Treloar 2, Fasolo, Blair, Crisp
Western Bulldogs: T Boyd 3, Wallis 3, Hunter 2, Stringer, Redpath, Campbell, Bontempelli, McLean, Stevens
Collingwood: Treloar, Adams, Moore, De Goey, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Swan
Western Bulldogs: Hunter, Bontempelli, Johannisen, Dahlhaus, Wallis, T Boyd
Western Bulldogs: Campbell (ankle)
Umpires: O'Gorman, Meredith, Ryan
Official crowd: 12,594.