Jordan De Goey and Ben Reid celebrate a Collingwood goal in Wangaratta. Picture: AFL Photos

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JUST FOUR months after fearing his AFL career could be over as he prepared for potentially life-threatening brain surgery, Jack Higgins has made a heart-warming return to senior football for Richmond. 

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In his first official game since round 13 last year, the 20-year-old small forward overcame some early physical and psychological tests to be perhaps the chief positive for the reigning premier as it succumbed to a similarly under-strength Collingwood by 40 points at a hot Wangaratta on Sunday.


Collingwood's strong 13.6 (84) to 6.8 (44) win was soured somewhat by a possible hamstring injury to star midfielder Adam Treloar.

Midway through the last quarter Treloar reached for his left thigh and took himself from the field without returning.


Along with the result, the Magpies would have been buoyed by the efforts of star Jordan De Goey after steadily building his conditioning over the pre-season, with the matchwinner winning 14 possessions, kicking a game-high three goals and enjoying the odd burst in a strong Magpie onball brigade.

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The Woods had hoped fellow livewire Jaidyn Stephenson would join De Goey in attack, but the speedster was a late withdrawal because of a family matter.

Jordan De Goey fends off Jayden Short. Picture: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Meanwhile, popular Tiger Higgins had just six disposals but will have gained enormous confidence he can reassert himself in the Richmond line-up after emerging unscathed.

He set up the first goal of the afternoon after being rewarded for a tackle, and handballing off to Jayden Short who bombed a long goal.


Shortly before quarter-time the pocket rocket went off with a bloodied nose after copping a high tackle, and when he returned in the second term he won a free kick after bravely committing to an aerial ball against two Magpies.

Higgins, who spent some time in the midfield, also had a hand in another goal to Mabior Chol in the third term as the Tigers fought back.

The slicker Pies started into a two-goal breeze but dominated the first term with five goals to one to lead by 25 points at the first change – a lead they maintained to half-time.


Richmond fought back to within nine points in the third quarter, but sprayed 2.6 to Collingwood’s three behinds for the term before being overwhelmed yet again.

Both teams were severely depleted given Friday night's State of Origin for Bushfire Relief game, which featured 11 Tigers and Magpies combined – Richmond stars Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin, Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt, Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards and Collingwood guns Scott Pendlebury, Brodie Grundy, Steele Sidebottom, Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe.

However, this provided opportunities for others to step up. In Grundy's absence, ex-Sydney big man Darcy Cameron (two goals) and Mason Cox (one) shared a ruck/forward role and prospered. They competed well and helped feed runners Adam Treloar (a game-high 34 disposals), Taylor Adams (30) and Chris Mayne (31).


The Pies had winners in defence where Jack Crisp (28), John Noble (23) and Brayden Maynard (23) were prominent, while Irish rookie Mark Keane, who was named an emergency for a game last year, held his own as a key defender.

Richmond, which featured 14 members of last year's premiership side, was perhaps best served by diminutive runners Liam Baker (30) and Short (25).


Richmond: First-round draftee Thomson Dow collected five touches in limited game time and the midfielder missed a shot at goal on the final siren. Untried second-year prospect Riley Collier-Dawkins battled to find the tempo and finished with just nine touches in 55 per cent game time, while former rookie Jake Aarts, also yet to debut, contributed 0.2 from 10 touches in the windy conditions. 

Jake Aarts takes to the air in Wangaratta. Picture: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

Collingwood: Former Swan Darcy Cameron showed he could be more than just an insurance policy for Grundy, while Irishman Mark Keane is making rapid improvement as a big backman, uncapped midfielder Tyler Brown was good early with sure hands, small forward Atu Bosenavulagi was quiet but gained an opportunity after a strong pre-season campaign, and top draftees Jay Rantall and Trent Bianco got involved in the flow of play when injected into the contest in the final term.

Josh Daicos ($431,000) could be set to secure a more permanent role in the Pies' line-up after a polished display forward of centre, while developing defender Mark Keane ($170,000) could also get an opportunity at some stage. 


Richmond travels further north-east to Wagga Wagga where they will take on Greater Western Sydney early on Sunday afternoon, after which Collingwood will face St Kilda at Morwell. 

RICHMOND                 1.0   4.0    6.6   6.8   (44)
COLLINGWOOD          5.1   8.1    8.4   13.6   (84)                             

Richmond: Short, Lambert, Prestia, Caddy, Coleman-Jones, Chol
Collingwood: De Goey 3, Daicos 2, Cameron 2, Elliott, Reid, Mihocek, Cox, Crisp, Phillips 

Richmond: Baker, Short, Broad, Caddy, Grimes
Collingwood: Treloar, Mayne, Adams, De Goey, Noble, Daicos, Maynard 

Richmond: Nil
Collingwood: Treloar (hamstring)

Reports: Nil

Official crowd: TBC at Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta