Josh Daicos (left) and Scott Pendlebury celebrate a goal during round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

CRAIG McRae spent five years working under Damien Hardwick at Punt Road, but on Friday night the Magpies ensured Richmond’s triple premiership coach couldn’t celebrate his 300th game in charge of the Tigers with a win.

It wasn’t pretty – and the margin should have been more – but it was more than enough for the Magpies to make it three from three to start 2023, recording a 8.15 (63) to 7.7 (49) on a slippery night in front of 85,241 people at the MCG.

Richmond star Shai Bolton kicked the opening goal of the game inside three minutes, but from the moment Collingwood recruit Bobby Hill responded five minutes later, the Magpies never relinquished the lead.


Emerging superstar Nick Daicos absorbed the focus of the football world to produce another impressive performance. It wasn’t quite as box office as the first fortnight of the season, but it was a third consecutive 30+ effort to start the season from the 20-year-old that will give the umpires something to think about when they submit the Brownlow Medal votes.

COACHES' COMMENTS Pies' No.1 ruck suffers MCL, Tigers trio likely to return

Jordan De Goey will certainly attract the umpires’ attention after producing a dominant display, amassing 35 disposals, ten clearances and 597m gained, while Josh Daicos continued his blistering start to the year with 28 touches, seven clearances and 503 metres gained and Tom Mitchell found the ball 30 times.

With rain sweeping across the Melbourne all afternoon and drizzling before the bounce, the game was a scrap from start to finish, despite the rain clearing in the first half.


It should have almost been over at half-time. The Magpies dominated the first half, registering 13 of the first 14 scores to reach half time with nine more inside 50s, 18 more contested possessions and nine more scoring shots. But they didn’t capitalise, reaching the main break only 19 points ahead.

Hardwick needed a response and got one after activating the sub at half-time, swapping a tall for a small and Noah Cumberland made an instant impact inside 50 after replacing Samson Ryan.

The Tigers kicked the first three goals in the first ten minutes of the second half to get within a kick and breathe life into a contest that struggled for air in the first half. And Cumberland was in everything.


But just as Collingwood was challenged, they responded. Josh Daicos and Jamie Elliott both kicked goals to steady the ship, before Scott Pendlebury weaved through traffic at the city end, in a moment of pure class by the man with 361 games next to his name. Elliott kicked a second to put the Magpies 28 points up at three-quarter time, enough to keep the Tigers at bay.

Richmond kicked three final quarter goals to keep the game alive, but never enough to truly scare Collingwood.  

After two box office performances to start this year, this wasn’t one for Name A Game. Collingwood nailed the brief and now move on to face Brisbane at the Gabba on Easter Thursday.

MAGPIES v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats

But now Collingwood’s second-year coach will have to conjure some more magic after No.1 ruckman Darcy Cameron sustained an MCL injury in the third quarter which is expected to rule him out for an extended period.

While Hardwick has three premiership cups sitting in the Swinburne Centre, McRae now has 19 wins from his first 25 games as a senior coach. It has been one hell of a start to life in the hot seat.


Billy gets it done
Billy Frampton got his chance last weekend after Jeremy Howe broke his forearm against Geelong on the first Friday night of the season. After the Magpies traded in four players in October, Tom Mitchell and Dan McStay generated all the attention. Bobby Hill built a case over summer that put him in the best 22. But on Friday night, it was the former Adelaide and Port Adelaide tall utility who was the pick of the bunch. Craig McRae gave him the colossal task of stopping Tom Lynch and he did, holding the reigning best and fairest winner to just one goal and minimal influence.

Billy Frampton tackles Tom Lynch during round three, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Johnson sends reminder
After such an exciting stint at the back end of last season, Ash Johnson was squeezed out of Craig McRae’s best side over the pre-season, following the arrival of Dan McStay. But with Mason Cox ruled out with a haematoma, the 25-year-old showed he still has plenty to offer at AFL level. Johnson lit the Friday night stage up, especially in the second quarter when he was involved in everything. The Halls Creek product finished with 1.3 and should have capitalised on his chances, registering a game-high 10 score involvements from 15 disposals.


Ruck dilemma for premiership contenders 
Collingwood has a ruck issue right now after Darcy Cameron suffered a suspected high grade MCL injury on Friday night. The Pies traded dual All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy to Melbourne in October, Mason Cox is sidelined with a hematoma, and Aiden Begg dealing with a back injury, which leaves only one ruck option left at the AIA Centre. Oscar Steene was signed during the pre-season supplemental selection period but is a raw teenager. The Pies might also consider using Billy Frampton in the ruck. Time will tell how serious that knee issue is for Cameron, who showed how valuable he can be last weekend against Port Adelaide. Ash Johnson was used in the ruck in the final quarter, while Dan McStay is another option.

COLLINGWOOD     2.6     3.10    7.15     8.15    (63)
RICHMOND            1.0     1.3      4.5      7.7      (49)

 Elliott 2, Pendlebury, Mihocek, Johnson, Hill, J. Daicos, McStay
Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Mansell, Clarke, Bolton, Lynch, Ross

De Goey, J. Daicos, N. Daicos, Sidebottom, Frampton, Mitchell, Crisp
Richmond: Baker, Taranto, Rioli, Bolton, Vlastuin, Ross

Mihocek (face), Cameron (knee)
Richmond: None

Josh Carmichael replaced Darcy Cameron in fourth quarter
 Noah Cumberland replaced Samson Ryan at half-time

Crowd: 85,241 at the MCG