COLLINGWOOD will be sweating on the fitness of Steele Sidebottom ahead of round one, with the Pies suffering a double injury blow in their AAMI Community Series loss to Richmond.
Standout second halves from Magpies key pair Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron, who both booted three goals after the main change, saw Collingwood claw back to within five points with 23 seconds to play.
But the Tigers held on to claim the 11.14 (80) to 11.8 (74) win at Marvel Stadium, with the loss soured for the Pies by the early injuries to Sidebottom, whose night was over at quarter-time with calf tightness, and young key forward Will Kelly, who left the field in the second term after suffering a broken collarbone in a marking contest.
PIES v TIGERS Full match coverage and stats
The 20-year-old immediately grabbed at his shoulder/collarbone after being leapt into by Tigers defender Dylan Grimes who grabbed the mark. Kelly, who has been earmarked for a key forward role, suffered a dislocated elbow last year on debut.
Coach Nathan Buckley said the club would see how Sidebottom’s calf settles in coming days, but that Kelly was already in hospital.
"It was a very clean hit and snapped it, so he’s gone to hospital and he’ll have it done tonight," he said post-game.
Gun defender Brayden Maynard also ended the game with his shin iced after pulling up sore from a marking contest in the dying minutes, but is all clear.
The Tigers had full control of the game after a dominant if wasteful first half before Cox burst to life in the third term, booting two goals for the quarter and then a third early in the last term to drag the Magpies back into the game. Cameron then provided a target with all of his majors coming in the last quarter.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick warned that superstar Dustin Martin had enjoyed an "incredible" pre-season and he delivered with a strong performance, gathering 23 disposals and four clearances before being subbed out at three-quarter time, while small forward Jason Castagna was excellent with four goals for the Tigers.
It was business as usual for the Tigers. They set up the game early, defended well and controlled proceedings apart from the third term, when Cox begun to present an option in attack. Reigning best and fairest Jayden Short was dynamic, amassing 43 disposals and an enormous 958 metres gained, while Josh Caddy was busy on the wing with 27 touches and a goal.
Jordan De Goey, who coach Nathan Buckley said this week was slated to play "50-50" in the midfield and forward line this season, was Collingwood's best with 27 disposals and 2.2, while emerging half-back Isaac Quaynor was also impressive with 23 disposals and eight rebounds.
After playing only four games last season due to his serious knee injury, Jeremy Howe was back in defence for the Pies and reminded everyone of his influence with 20 disposals.
The Magpies blooded their top pick from last year's NAB AFL Draft, Ollie Henry, after he showed some exciting signs against the Cats in last week's practice match. He did so again against the Tigers, with the lively medium forward throwing himself into the action, going back with the flight of the ball in marking contests, and continually adding pressure and an option in attack. Callum Coleman-Jones, who switched between the ruck and centre-half forward, has plenty of fans at Punt Road and will be given opportunities this season after his suspension from last year's COVID-19 breach ends early in the season. His run, jump and goal late was a flash of his ability. Riley Collier-Dawkins featured for the Tigers in the second half after an impressive pre-season and picked up eight touches in his first outing for the Tigers, impressing with his work at stoppages and catching the eye with a final-quarter blind turn. Tigers midfielder Will Martyn snuck on late for a taste of things.
Round one chance
After managing just three games last season, Brayden Sier was given his chance to reclaim his spot back in the Pies' midfield. The bullocking ball-getter was used in the centre square and occasionally deep in attack, too, and he finished with 21 disposals and three clearances. He should be grasping a spot in the Pies' line-up. How the Tigers manage their ruck assistance for Toby Nankervis will be fascinating early in the season. On Friday night Coleman-Jones and Mabior Chol split the duties, while Noah Balta also pinch-hit in the role. It is one of the few questions the Tigers have to work out ahead of the start of the season. Derek Eggmolesse-Smith, who is tipped to win a second chance on the Tigers' list via the pre-season signing period, played the final term and had eight touches.
Sidebottom and Kelly were the main injury concerns to come out of the game, while Maynard ended on the interchange with his shin strapped with ice. The Pies had entered in reasonably good shape, with Taylor Adams (hamstring), Brody Mihocek (calf) and Chris Mayne (concussion) missing. All are expected to be available for round one. Richmond appeared to get through unscathed and is healthy heading into another tilt, with only Bachar Houli (calf) considered unlikely for round one. Dion Prestia (hamstring) didn't face the Magpies but is expected to be available for the season-opener against Carlton, while Tom Lynch (toe) also missed with a very minor complaint but will be fine for the Blues clash.
Collingwood gave up the most points to defenders last season and that happened again against the Tigers with Jayden Short (DEF, $694,000) racking up a mammoth 171 points. He'll be hot property in Fantasy Draft as most will rank him well inside the top 10 defenders but could be a point of difference in Classic with under two per cent ownership. Similarly, Jordan De Goey (FWD, $605,000) appears in two per cent of teams and as coaches will be looking for value up forward, the 25-year-old is a serious option due to his role. He attended plenty of centre bounces for the Pies to finish with 127 points. If you can trust De Goey's body, he's a value pick with midfield minutes.
Just a cheeky 43 disposals for Jayden Short ??— AFL (@AFL) March 5, 2021
Will any of these guys be in your @aflfantasy team for Round One?
COLLINGWOOD 2.3 3.5 6.7 11.8 (74)
RICHMOND 4.3 6.8 8.9 11.14 (80)
Collingwood: Cox 3, Cameron 3, De Goey 2, Daicos, Elliott, Ruscoe
Richmond: Castagna 4, Riewoldt 2, Caddy, Coleman-Jones, Edwards, McIntosh, Rioli
Collingwood: De Goey, Cox, Maynard, Crisp, Howe, Pendlebury
Richmond: Short, Caddy, Martin, Baker, Edwards, Riewoldt
Collingwood: Kelly (collarbone), Maynard (shin) Sidebottom (calf)