Brodie Grundy and Mason Cox embrace after the round 13 match between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG, June 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD coach Craig McRae handled the side's first match against former All-Australian ruck Brodie Grundy in unusual fashion, displaying a photo of the now-Melbourne ruck in his pre-match address.

Grundy had a hefty five-year contract remaining at Collingwood, but Melbourne was keen for a second ruckman after the departure of Luke Jackson.

"I said before the game to the boys – I put a photo of him up and I said, 'we all really care for Brodie. Many of us in the room have close relationships with him, he had a great contribution to the Collingwood football club'," McRae said.

DEMONS V PIES Full match details and stats

"'You make tough decisions, list management-wise, about what you think is best for the future.

"We don't want any wrong by Brodie, we want him to play well and perform, just not against us."


After a bright start, Collingwood struggled against Melbourne, and while the Pies rallied late, they were ultimately four points shy of the Demons by the final siren. It's just their second loss for the year.

"I thought the whole game was a bit of a struggle for us. Coming into the game, they're such a strong, defensive team, you're not going to get everything on your terms. For parts of it, it was a struggle for both teams I would have thought, it was hard to score," McRae said.

"To be honest, I thought we would have stolen that one (if we'd won), they were the better team. They were much better in the key moments and key contests on the day. Maybe a couple more minutes, you never know, but I thought we weren't brave enough early in the last quarter.


"I wanted to be a bit more like we saw in the last five minutes. I'd rather lose by 10 goals, I really would, than die wondering. I really would, that's always been our mantra. Let's not sit and wait, I thought we were too safe at times, but credit to the opposition, their contest and defensive system was really strong."

McRae said skipper Darcy Moore had suffered a minor ankle sprain, and the team is hoping to regain Dan McStay (finger) and Jamie Elliott (shoulder) after this week's bye.


Melbourne also goes into its bye this week, but will have a spring in its step after holding strong against what coach Simon Goodwin said was "the hottest team in town".

"Our defensive system, we've worked really hard on what that looks like against these types of teams," Goodwin said.

"We're looking to get better as the year goes on, and this is one of those steps forward in that space. We're not the finished product by any stretch, but we defend in a certain way, we've had to tinker with some things along the way, but it's all about how we get better.


"That's the character you want to build within your footy team, it's the resilience you want to see. It wasn't our best start to a game. It was like a Collingwood game early.

"There were a lot of missed opportunities for us, we had our chances to kick a pretty big score.

"To deal with that disappointment is stuff we've been working on, that performance mindset about how we deal with mistakes, how we move forward and how we stay in the now and be really present. I thought our boys moved on from all those mistakes and opportunities that we coughed up, and we were still really strong by the end of the game."

The Demons kicked 8.18 against the Pies, and it continues a worrying trend of inaccuracy after a strong start to the year, with 11.14 against Port Adelaide and 6.8 against Carlton.


"We've got some work to do. It's an area of our game we've been incredibly strong at through the whole of this year, up until the last three weeks," Goodwin said.

"We put a lot of time into our goalkicking, and it's an area I have absolute confidence in the people running the program and the investment of our players, that'll turn round really quickly. That's probably the least of my worries right now."

Clayton Oliver ran laps of the MCG post-match, having spent five days in hospital with an infected blister, with Goodwin saying he was "pretty sure" the star midfielder would return to face Geelong after the bye.