With Paul Medhurst and Anthony Rocca the only absentees from a near full-strength Collingwood side, and West Coast fielding close to a full complement of rookies and recent draft picks, a gross mismatch eventuated in front of 22,819 fans.
Nonetheless, with solid first showings from young Eagles Tom Swift (14 possessions) and Adam Cockie (21), and devastating performances from a pair of returning Magpies, it seemed both sides got something from of the fixture.
Indeed, Alan Didak (30 possessions) and Heath Shaw (26) looked to have a point to prove to the teammates they let down so publicly last year, while the elusive Scott Pendlebury (31) and Tarkyn Lockyer (31) were simply a class above their inexperienced markers.
Nick Maxwell, captaining the side for the first time, proved to be a wise choice for the leadership post, and Travis Cloke (four goals) was the side’s most effective forward.
West Coast entered the match with the aim of blooding young players and, with Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr starting on the bench as substitutes, heaped responsibility on them from the first bounce.
Chris Masten and Mark Nicoski took it upon themselves to fight the home side’s cause but, aside from the final siren, there were few highlights for the home fans.
To make matters worse, young Eagles Eric Mackenzie (shoulder) and Pat McGinnity (broken jaw) sustained serious injuries. Mackenzie will have x-rays on Sunday to determine damage while McGinnity was taken straight to hospital.
Collingwood wasted no time proving they had brought a far superior pre-season side, booting five first-term goals to West Coast’s two.
It was the Eagles on the board first, however, when Brent Staker ran down Heath Shaw in front of goals.
But while the Eagles did the basics well early, it was some flashy play forward of centre from Didak that kick-started Collingwood’s run. Receiving a handball from Lockyer, Didak span out of a tackle while simultaneously handballing over his head to the running Johnson, who finished the passage with a goal.
Midfield pressure saw a number of young Eagles coughing up the ball, and John Anthony benefitted from the Pies’ midfield ascendency, kicking his first goal 10 minutes in.
Moments later McGinnity found himself in some rare space to kick the game’s first super-goal, leaving West Coast just one point behind. But it was all Collingwood thereafter as the visitors booted two more goals through Lockyer and Ben Johnson to take a 14-point lead into the first break.
The Eagles tightened up for the second term and kept the Pies off the board for the opening 10 minutes, but with Lockyer, Pendlebury, Shaw and Dane Swan running riot through the middle it wasn’t long before the Pies set up their match-winning lead.
Second-quarter goals to Lockyer, Cloke and Anthony and a super-goal to Marty Clarke saw the Pies build a 40-point lead. Meanwhile, West Coast was forced to enter substitutes Cox and Kerr into the match after Mackenzie and McGinnity left the field injured.
The star pair was desperately needed and had an impact immediately – Cox playing at full forward and kicking his side’s only goal for the term and Kerr bringing some composure to the midfield.
Cloke erupted in the third term, booting three goals on Beau Wilkes – one from some uncharacteristic crumbing.
Staker snapped a classy goal from the pocket while a super-goal to Kerr enhanced his own showing. But the Eagles went into the final change 52 points down.
Didak, with a mid-air soccer kick, and Leon Davis, with some classy crumbing, built the lead early in the final term, and the Magpies cruised to a comprehensive victory.
COLLINGWOOD 0.5.2 (32) 1.8.8 (65) 1.12.14 (95) 1.15.17 (116)
WEST COAST 1.1.3 (18) 1.2.4 (25) 2.3.7 (43) 3.3.9 (54)
Collingwood: Nine-point goal: Clarke. Goals: Cloke 4, Lockyer 3, Anthony, Davis, Johnson 2, Didak, Wood
West Coast: Nine-point goals: McGinnity, Kerr, McKinley. Goals: Staker 2, Cox
Collingwood: Lockyer, Didak, Pendlebury, Cloke, Shaw, O’Brien
West Coast: Nicoski, Kerr, Masten, Swift, Priddis
West Coast: Mackenzie (shoulder), McGinnity (broken jaw)
Umpires: Donlon, Kennedy, Margetts, Schmitt
Crowd: 22,819 at Subiaco Oval
25th February 2009