WEST Coast has overcome its horror run of injuries and COVID-19 dramas for a stunning 13-point upset win over Collingwood.
The Eagles rallied from seven points down at three-quarter time on Saturday at Marvel Stadium for their first win of the season, 10.14 (74) to 14.3 (87).
MAGPIES V EAGLES Full match details and stats
West Coast was missing a host of its best players, but key defenders Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass were outstanding and Willie Rioli and Josh Kennedy kicked three goals apiece.
As the scoreline suggests, West Coast was much more efficient in attack and Collingwood paid dearly for not making the most of its 61-42 advantage in inside 50s.
West Coast kicked seven of the last nine goals in the match as Collingwood were overrun for the second time in as many weeks.
Collingwood also lost veteran utility Jamie Elliott early in the last quarter with a dislocated left shoulder, suffered in a Jamaine Jones tackle. Coach Craig McRae said after the game Elliott had been taken to hospital and could miss up to 12 weeks.
After three lead changes in the last term, Eagles key forward Jack Darling sealed the win with a mark and goal at 25 minutes.
The Magpies had 16 inside 50s to 11 in the first quarter, but could not find their way through the virtual brick wall formed by McGovern and Barrass.
The two Eagles backmen took five intercept marks between them in the opening term, as a goal apiece to livewire small forwards Liam Ryan and Rioli gave West Coast a six-point lead at the first change.
Two early goals in the second term gave the Eagles a 17-point lead, before the Magpies steadied.
After only three goals in the first term, the game opened with five apiece in the second, including an outstanding long shot from an acute angle by Kennedy.
Trailing by two points at the main break, Collingwood turned the screws at the start of the third term and put the Eagles defence under massive pressure.
But 12 successive inside 50s only yielded two goals.
Inevitably, a rebound clearance cost the Magpies dearly, with Kennedy drilling a 50m goal.
Rioli slotted a goal from a dubious free kick two minutes later and the Eagles had weathered the storm to stay in touch at three-quarter time.
Collingwood young gun Nick Daicos had a game-high 32 disposals and defender Brayden Maynard was also outstanding.
Eagle Luke Edwards was subbed off at the last change, with his injury to be confirmed.
Where there's a Willie there's a way
Willie Rioli has missed a lot of football, with the entire COVID-ravaged 2020 and 2021 seasons passing while he sat on the sidelines through an anti-doping suspension, but he's back, and dare we say it of a 175cm small forward, he's bigger and better than ever. Four goals against North Melbourne in round two was his highest return in an AFL match, and his three on Saturday suggests he's ready to produce at a consistent rate. In true Rioli fashion, he's an unstoppable mix of flash, pressure and courage. West Coast missed what he brings the past two years - we all did - but when he's there Willie makes this side a whole different matter, no matter who else is in the side.
Nick Daicos is bringing the best out of brother Josh
We knew Nick Daicos was going to be good - and he is - but the bonus for Collingwood is the level of football he is pulling out of older brother Josh. Both managed career-best figures on Saturday, not a big feat for Nick in game four, but Josh debuted in 2017 and, while he's often impressed, this season has seen him hit career-high averages across the board. Whether it's an extension of backyard rivalry or a contest to see who can impress father Peter the most won't fuss Craig McRae, in fact he's likely encouraging it, whispering in each Daicos' ear pre-game 'You know Dad doesn't love you as much as your brother - he told me just the other day'. The truth is anyone in black and white is loving them both.
Pressure is creating diamonds in the west
The phrase 'one man's misfortune is another's opportunity' has been done to death in football circles, but it's about all Adam Simpson has been able to muster as he's watched player after player become unavailable through the first four rounds of 2022. And maybe he's starting to be proven right. Connor West, Xavier O'Neill, Luke Edwards and Patrick Naish all stood up in a midfield missing too many big names to mention. Whether there'll be room for the kids when the stars return will have to wait to be seen, but the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire and a testing time could be handing Simpson some quality weapons for the future.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 6.6 9.10 10.14 (74)
WEST COAST 2.2 7.2 9.3 14.3 (87)
Collingwood: Ginnivan 2, Mihocek 2, Cameron, J.Daicos, Henry, Hoskin-Elliott, Maynard, Wilson
West Coast: Kennedy 3, Rioli 3, Ryan 2, Darling 2, Edwards, Langdon, Naish, Waterman
Collingwood: J.Daicos, N.Daicos, Grundy, Pendlebury, Maynard
West Coast: McGovern, O'Neill, Duggan, West, Naish, Rioli
Collingwood: Elliott (AC joint)
West Coast: L.Edwards (TBC)
Collingwood: Trent Bianco, replaced Jamie Elliott in the fourth quarter
West Coast: Josh Rotham, replaced Luke Edwards in the fourth quarter
Crowd: 25,897 at Marvel Stadium