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Ballantyne, Fyfe fire as Dockers crush Magpies

Highlights: Collingwood v Fremantle The Pies and Dockers clash in round 1
Danyle Pearce of the Dockers celebrates a goal during the 2014 AFL round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on March 14, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Danyle Pearce celebrates a goal against Collingwood in the season opener on Friday night
FREMANTLE has made a mockery of its patchy pre-season form and lived up to its status as one of this year's premiership favourites with a thumping 70-point win over an undermanned Collingwood in 2014's opening game on Friday night.

The Dockers weathered some outstanding pressure and clearance dominance from Collingwood in the first term at Etihad Stadium before putting the Pies to the sword with 12 consecutive goals on their way to a 17.14 (116) to 5.16 (46) win.

Freo's renowned defensive pressure under Ross Lyon was again on display as they kept the Pies to their lowest ever score against the Dockers, holding them goalless from the 19-minute mark of the first term to the 21-minute mark of the third quarter.

But the Dockers also answered Ross Lyon's pre-season call for more attack in 2014, slicing and dicing the Pies with quick and precise ball movement, often being prepared to go long through the middle of the ground.

Stephen Hill and Danyle Pearce's foot skills in particular were outstanding, while Nat Fyfe dominated in the middle and up forward before he was substituted from the ground just before three-quarter time with calf cramps.

Fyfe was less than impressed when he was handed the red vest, however, and who could blame him. At the time, he was best on ground with 20 possessions, nine clearances and a goal. 

Aaron Sandilands was also dominant in the ruck, his height and experience too much for promising second-year Pie Brodie Grundy, while Michael Barlow and Tendai Mzungu were prolific ball-winners.

Luke McPharlin notably kept Travis Cloke scoreless, but was aided by the Pies' poor delivery to their spearhead. 

"I thought our clearance work and ball work early was poor in two areas, but when we did get it, we looked really dangerous and our ability to score was quite strong," Lyon said. 

"It was really important to get some momentum by getting a win on the board early."

It was a bitter start to 2014 for the Pies, who sorely missed injured talls Ben Reid and Jesse White.

But the popular view that this season will be a transitional one for Collingwood might prove correct.

With key players such as Dale Thomas, Heath Shaw and Sharrod Wellingham all leaving over the past two years, Collingwood suddenly looks young and inexperienced.

Buckley said the Pies would have liked to take a more experienced side into Friday night's clash, but acknowledged his team had not been up to scratch.

"We played the Grand Finalists from last year and got pantsed in the last three quarters," Buckley said. 

"We played a quarter of our footy and at quarter-time I wouldn't have thought we would have seen what we did in the last three, so it was disappointing.

"We had some chances and our ball-handling was woeful after quarter-time. 

"All the numbers in contested possessions and clearances were even, but we just weren't able to hold the tide back."

Some familiar faces led the way for the Pies against the Dockers, with Dayne Beams, Scott Pendlebury – despite having Ryan Crowley for company all night – Dane Swan and Luke Ball at least flying the Magpie flag.

Captain Matthew Pavlich presented an imposing target in the Dockers' forward line.   Picture: AFL Media 

COLLINGWOOD     2.4     2.8       3.13       5.16   (46)                  
FREMANTLE           2.3     8.7      14.10   17.14   (116)          
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Swan, Macaffer, Elliott, Young
Fremantle: Ballantyne 3, Pearce 2, Crowley 2, Mundy 2, Walters 2, Fyfe, Hill, Barlow, Sheridan, Pavlich, Mzungu
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Langdon
Fremantle: Fyfe, Hill, Ballantyne, Sandilands, Johnson, McPharlin, Pearce
Collingwood: Nil
Fremantle: Nil
Collingwood: Ben Kennedy replaced Martin Clarke in the third quarter
Fremantle: Lachie Neale replaced Nathan Fyfe at three-quarter time
Reports: Nil
Umpires: Dean Margetts, Mathew Nicholls, Brendan Hosking
Official crowd: 37,571 at Etihad Stadium