Nick Daicos celebrates a goal during Collingwood's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THEY are the premiership favourites for a reason.

Collingwood absorbed some of the Western Bulldogs' best football of 2023 before flicking the switch after half-time to win an enthralling Friday night fixture by 12 points on Friday night.

Craig McRae's side didn't play near its best and didn't lead until Jordan De Goey kicked the opening goal of the second half, but Collingwood booted six goals to one in the third quarter to win 13.11 (89) to 11.11 (77) at Marvel Stadium.

BULLDOGS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats

Despite Aaron Naughton, Cody Weightman and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan combining for 10 of the Western Bulldogs' 11 goals – they left a few out there – in their best combined performance of the season, it wasn't enough to seriously trouble a black and white outfit that is now five games inside the top four at 14-2.

Brownlow Medal favourite Nick Daicos changed the game in the third quarter with two spectacular goals en route to finishing with 29 disposals, 15 contested possessions, 11 clearances and six tackles in another eye-catching display to claim the Bob Rose-Charlie Sutton Medal.

And he wasn't alone. Jamie Elliott booted four goals, Ash Johnson slotted three in his return game, while small defenders Isaac Quaynor (27 disposals and 13 marks) and John Noble (28 disposals and nine marks) got the job done behind the ball.


The Bulldogs made a fast start on the fast deck. Weightman entered the game in form after kicking 11 goals in the past three games and couldn't have started any better, slotting the opening two goals of the game, celebrating the second the second it came off his boot.

When Naughton made it three from three, the Dogs had three on the board before the Magpies had scored. Collingwood was stunned by the early pressure. After kicking 120 points against the Gold Coast last Saturday, it took the Magpies 19 minutes to score when Elliott found a pocket of space to convert.


Ugle-Hagan and Naughton looked ominous early before Johnson hovered on the line and took a big grab after Taylor Adams' shot landed on the line in the second quarter. Just when the Bulldogs were starting to regain control, Johnson ran in for his second in four minutes.

Luke Beveridge's men were clearly better in the first half, but a second and third goal from Elliott in the dying minutes reduced the margin to under a goal. And just like that, the Pies were back in it.

Collingwood flicked the switch from the start of the third quarter via De Goey, Daicos and captain Darcy Moore, who stopped a certain Marcus Bontempelli goal in the square with a timely tackle on the last line of defence. When Collingwood needed someone to lead the way, it was Daicos who amassed 11 disposals, seven contested possessions, five groundballs and two goals to help give the Magpies a 25-point advantage at the final change.

The Western Bulldogs' forward trio threatened from start to finish and kept the game alive all the way to the end. Weightman and Naughton both finished with four goals each, while Ugle-Hagan added 2.3 from 10 marks in another glimpse of what's to come in the future.


But it wasn't enough to stop the ladder leaders.

The Western Bulldogs have never finished with a double chance under Beveridge's watch, despite going all the way in 2016 and reaching the 2021 big dance. Now they have a challenge ahead of them to get there this year.

Resume builds again
Shortly after half-time, Scott Pendlebury added a significant record to his remarkable resume. Collingwood's games record holder needed 13 disposals to eclipse Robert Harvey's longstanding record of 9,656 and he got there early in the third quarter and the Magpies faithful didn't miss the moment. They went berserk when he touched the ball again moments later. Even some of his teammates applauded in the moment. If you are looking for his next record, the Collingwood great will break Dustin Fletcher's mark of having played in front of 19,298,044 fans in the not-too-distant future.


Poulter redemption
Caleb Poulter entered the game off the bench and got immediately involved but forgot what team he was playing for when he burst towards Collingwood's attacking goal before correcting and settling. The 20-year-old got going from there, though, finishing with 16 disposals and a goal in a decent display against the side that delisted him in October.

'Marra magic
Aaron Naughton and Cody Weightman both kicked two more goals than Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, but the former No.1 pick produced another game that showed why he is poised to be one of the best key forwards in the game in the near future. Six days after kicking four goals against Fremantle, the 21-year-old finished with 2.3 from 10 marks (three contested) to show another glimpse of what's to come. Naughton produced his best game of the season and could be finding form just when the Dogs need him most.


WESTERN BULLDOGS          3.1     6.5       7.7     11.11 (77)
COLLINGWOOD                   1.4     5.6     11.8     13.11 (89)

Western Bulldogs: Weightman 4, Naughton 4, Ugle-Hagan 2, Poulter
Elliott 4, Johnson 3, N.Daicos 2, Lipinski, Frampton, De Goey, J.Daicos

Western Bulldogs: Naughton, Daniel, Liberatore, Ugle-Hagan, Weightman, Bontempelli
N.Daicos, Elliott, Noble, Crisp, Quaynor, J.Daicos, Johnson

Western Bulldogs: Gardner (ankle)
Hoskin-Elliott (hand)

Western Bulldogs: Anthony Scott (replaced James O'Donnell in fourth quarter)
Trent Bianco (replaced Will Hoskin-Elliott at half-time)

Crowd: 43,482 at Marvel Stadium