COLLINGWOOD has escaped with a 14-point victory, gradually wearing down the Western Bulldogs in a battle of wills in the final term at the MCG.
In a tight match where neither team could grab the contest by the scruff of the neck, it was the Bulldogs who clung to a five-point lead at three-quarter time.
But in a scrappy affair that was populated by mistakes and slow-tempo footy, the Magpies' forward options eventually awoke from their slumber to kick four of the last five goals of the game to emerge with the 11.12 (78) to 9.10 (64) victory.
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The win in front of 59,257 fans squares Collingwood's season at two wins and two losses, an important achievement considering the inconsistency it has displayed in the first month of the season.
Magpies big man Brodie Grundy was absolutely dominant in the ruck opposed to Tim English, with Collingwood's advantage in the hitouts (60-6) eventually translating to an advantage around the clinches in the final term.
Underlining the supremacy in the ruck, Grundy had 17 hit-outs to advantage to English's zero.
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In a match that lacked line-breakers given the way it was played, Tom Phillips supplied the Magpies with plenty of dash on his way to 29 disposals, two goals and 530m gained.
The Bulldogs' defence battled bravely all night (led by Hayden Crozier and Easton Wood), but although Mason Cox didn't clunk all of his grabs, he had an indirect hand in the last two Magpies goals.
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The first half of Friday night's contest was as uninspiring as we've seen in any game in the past two seasons, with both teams struggling to move the ball forward and gain any fluency with their ball movement.
A classic mark from Crozier and Bailey Smith's first goal at AFL level provided the only real highlights of a dour first half.
Darcy Moore and former Bulldog Jordan Roughead repelled strongly from the back-half and were able to peel off from their direct opponent as they saw fit, as the Magpies kept the Bulldogs to just two goals at the major break.
But the game changed after half-time as the Bulldogs finally started challenging Moore and Roughead in aerial contests.
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Needing a spark from an impotent-looking forward mix that struggled in the first half, Aaron Naughton soared high above the pack on three separate occasions in the third term as the Bulldogs finally discovered some life in attack.
The Dogs took eight contested marks to one in the quarter as they finally started to apply pressure on the scoreboard.
Marcus Bontempelli was the Bulldogs' most consistent player across the night with 36 disposals, eight clearances and seven inside 50s, while Caleb Daniel used the ball effectively coming out of defence.
But try as they might, the Bulldogs lacked a distinguished game-changer in their front half when the game was up for grabs in the final term, and ultimately they fell to 2-2 for the season after a promising first two weeks.
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Collingwood: Chris Mayne copped a nasty corkie in his back in the first term and had to limp from the field in his 200th match. Unfortunately, he was not able to return to the ground and was taken to hospital after the game. Darcy Moore received some treatment for a sore knee in the third term but was quickly back on the ground.
Western Bulldogs: Marcus Bontempelli went down to the rooms for a brief period in the third term, favouring his left ankle, but he soon came back on to the ground.
Collingwood will travel to Brisbane for a clash against the Lions at the Gabba next Thursday night. The Bulldogs will have until next Sunday to prepare for their battle with Carlton at Marvel Stadium.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 4.6 6.9 11.12 (78)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.3 2.7 7.8 9.10 (64)
Collingwood: Phillips 2, Thomas 2, Stephenson 2, Elliott 2, De Goey, Varcoe, Cox
Western Bulldogs: Lloyd 2, Dickson, Naughton, Dunkley, Smith, McLean, Wallis, Suckling
Collingwood: Phillips, Grundy, Roughead, Adams, Pendlebury
Western Bulldogs: Bontempelli, Hunter, Macrae, Suckling, Crozier
Collingwood: Beams (illness) replaced in selected side by Brown, Mayne (back)
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Reports: Mihocek (Collingwood) reported for striking Liberatore (Western Bulldogs) in the second quarter
Umpires: Ryan, Hosking, O'Gorman
Official crowd: 59,257 at the MCG