The two teams celebrated five goals each in an entertaining third term. Where the Saints had been inefficient in the second term, squandering an 18-8 inside-50 advantage, they hit back. Tim Membrey was superb up forward, and finished with four goals, while Luke Dunstan and Jack Billings were instrumental through the midfield. Debutant Robbie Young also made his presence felt. But the Saints are work in progress and could not sustain this against a deep and talented Magpies unit.
Steele Sidebottom was typically robust, his ability to split, even fool, two opponents in the final term and goal on the run the highlight of his day. When the Magpies needed to take a stand, he was instrumental. Adam Treloar, Dayne Beams and Jack Crisp also found plenty of the ball, Jaidyn Stephenson conjured a 60-metre torpedo to cap a fine performance while the Pies’ undermanned defence stood firm.
Emerging Saints ruckman Rowan Marshall had negated Brodie Grundy early in the contest, including a big goal in the second term, but the latter took charge and was influential in the final term. Grundy, with 49 hit outs and 24 disposals through the day, finished as the No.1 ranked player.
«It was good to get the win. We are sticking to our brand. We just have that belief in the group now that we can take care of business in the final quarter,» Grundy said.
GETTING HIS KICKS
Mason Cox or Ben Reid? While Reid’s comeback from long-term injury was saluted a fortnight ago, the key forward had contributed only one goal since, and managed only four kicks against Carlton last week. He had also been 0.3 in set shots. His relief was palpable when took a strong mark and converted from about 40 metres 20 minutes into the first term. Reid finished with three goals, and has an edge over Cox in his ground work and ability to mark in different positions.
TWO FOR ONE
The Phillips brothers, Ed with the Saints and Tom with the Magpies, started off all smiles when they lined up on each other on a wing. But those smiles disappeared when both were crunched by Varcoe in the shadows of quarter-time. Varcoe was reported for rough conduct for his head high contact with a crouching Ed Phillips as the Saint attempted to take possession of a loose ball. In doing so, Varcoe also collected his Magpies teammate who was standing behind his younger brother. Varcoe apologised immediately but faces a fight to clear his name, even though Ed Phillips passed a concussion test. Varcoe retained his composure and kicked a goal in the second term.
The second quarter provided a bit of everything. Phillips returned from a concussion test but Brody Mihocek and Treloar had their issues. Mihocek had a head clash with Ben Patton and looked to be in serious trouble, for he was immediately wobbly on his feet. But he was cleared to return and booted four goals. Treloar was poked in the eye, which swelled, but played on. However, Langdon could not because of a right knee issue.
YOUNG TALENT TIME
Young, the mature-age Saints’ recruit, had only three touches to the main break but the confidence of the Port Adelaide product was clear in the third term when he capitalised on an ‘advantage’ call by the umpire to burn off an opponent and run into an open goal. His aeroplane-style celebration told the story. The left-footer was in the action again minutes later when his well-weighted pass found Membrey, who slotted through his third goal, leaving the Saints just a point adrift 11 minutes into the term. Young wasn’t done there, drilling a long bomb.
COLLINGWOOD 3.1 6.2 11.4 17.10 (112)
ST KILDA 1.3 4.9 9.11 10.11 (71)
Goals: Collingwood: B Mihocek 4 B Reid 3 J Stephenson 3 J Thomas 2 S Sidebottom 2 T Varcoe 2 W Hoskin-Elliott. St Kilda: T Membrey 4 R Young 2 J Battle J Bruce R Marshall S Savage.
Best: Collingwood: Sidebottom, Treloar, Grundy, Mihocek, Stephenson, Beams, Reid, Crisp. St Kilda: Billings, Dunstan, Membrey, Savage
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Robert Findlay, Andre Gianfagna.
Official Crowd: 60,702 at MCG
8: Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
8: Adam Treloar (Collingwood)
8: Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
8: Dayne Beams (Collingwood)
7: Luke Dunstan (St Kilda)
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.