Collingwood flexed its muscle without some of its biggest stars to blow St Kilda away by 27-points.
The Pies came into the game missing co-captains Steph Chiocci and Bri Davey, and Chloe Molloy, but put the Saints to the sword early with a dominant first quarter.
Collingwood jumped out of the blocks, having two goals on the board after six-minutes courtesy of Ebony O’Dea and a first AFLW goal for Eloise Chaston.
O’Dea was moved from defence to cover injured Collingwood co-captain Bri Davey, and after a goal to Aliesha Newman in the shadows of quarter-time the margin of 21-points at the first break reflected their dominance.
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An arm-wrestle of a second quarter saw both sides struggle to hit the scoreboard, but a late Aishling Sheridan goal extended the Pies’ lead to 27-points at the main break.
Britt Bonnici was the driving force for Collingwood and had a halftime stat line that most players would love to have at full-time, collecting 16-disposals, nine tackles and five clearances.
Sheridan would be the only goalkicker in a dull third quarter as she extended Collingwood’s lead to 33-points as the side’s turned for home.
The Saints were able to kick their first goal of the game at the seven-minute mark of the last quarter after Mikala Cann had kicked the Pies’ sixth goal to open the scoring for the term.
Another St Kilda goal to the returning Kate Shierlaw as time ran out cut the margin to a more respectable 27-points.
Best-on-ground Britt Bonnici finished with 26-dispoals, 10 tackles and six clearances, while Jaimee Lambert collected 25 touches and five clearances.
Saints’ Slow Start
St Kilda struggled to move the ball past the centre of the ground let alone muster an inside-50 threat in the first quarter.
The Saints didn’t have one inside-50 as the Pies’ wall of Stacey Livingstone and Schleicher once again proved impossible to pass.
What would’ve had Pies’ coach Steve Symonds grinning wasn’t just the effort of his defence, but his forwards, who laid five tackles inside-50 during the quarter to trap the ball inside and give the Saints no way out.
Davey void filled
Injured Pies co-captain Bri Davey left Symonds with some big shoes to fill in Collingwood’s midfield.
The Pies’ coach turned to Ebony O’Dea and Mikala Cann to do the job, and the young duo didn’t put a foot wrong.
Cann showed off her ball-winning ability and capped off her performance with a last quarter goal, finishing the game with 15-dispoals, four tackles, three clearances and a goal.
O’Dea laid some bone crunching tackles and brings a defensive edge to Collingwood’s midfield, finishing with 12 touches and four tackles.
Alison Downie has made a seamless transition into Collingwood’s midfield after crossing from Carlton in the off-season.
The 37-year-old kicked an important goal against her former side last week, but she took it up a notch this week, giving her midfield first use of the ball with 21 hit outs.
But what was more impressive was Downie’s follow-up work to finish with three clearances and eight disposals.
Nothing Mikala Cann’t do for Pies
Collingwood coach Steve Symonds heaped praise on young midfielder Mikala Cann after the 21-year-old stepped into the role vacated by injured star Bri Davey.
While it was two perennial Collingwood ball magnets that stole the show in the 27-point win, Cann showed a readiness beyond her years to assist Britt Bonnici and Jaimee Lambert in Collingwood’s midfield.
Symonds said Cann, who had 15-dispoals, four tackles, three clearances and a goal, showed signs of what Bri Davey brings to the table.
She was super in there and we took the reins off her a bit and she’s started to find a bit of the ball,” Symonds said.
“She ran out of legs a little bit towards the end, but that’s just getting used to the midfield.
“We think she can produce a bit of what Davey has.
She’s unbelievable the way she trains, her work ethic is great, she’s courageous and hard at the contest. We think we have a footballer there.”
The Magpies coach said he would continue to tinker with his midfield as he works to find the best mix in Davey’s absence.
And Collingwood fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of star forward Chloe Molloy getting that opportunity in the coming weeks.
“We threw Aishling Sheridan through there and will continue to experiment with that mix in the next few weeks,” he said.
“Hopefully Chloe will be back next week and Tarni Brown, so we have a few options to go through there which is exciting.
“The girls who played there today showed something which is good for us, which means we have good depth.
“Last year the younger girls probably weren’t experienced enough for it, but this year we reckon they’re ready to roll.”
Symonds said All-Australian back Ruby Schleicher suffered a small hyperextension against Carlton last week but got through the win over St Kilda with only minor soreness.
HORE MASTERCLASS KEEPS TIGERS AT BAY
Melbourne fought off a ferocious Richmond by 16-points on the back of Kate Hore masterclass, winning back-to-back games to start the season.
In the first game for points between the Tigers and Dees at Punt Road Oval in 59-years, Richmond jumped out of the blocks to kick the first goal just 20-seconds into the game courtesy of a Tessa Lavey snap.
The Tigers’ pressure and attack on the ball caught the Dees off guard, and when Katie Brennan added Richmond’s second goal they looked set to push Melbourne all the way.
But an eight-minute onslaught at the start of the second term from Hore dragged the Dees back into the game and ignited her side.
A five goal to zero quarter, which included one of the goals of the young season kicked by Alyssa Bannan, took the game away from Richmond.
A mini-fightback in the third quarter cut the margin to 16-points, but Richmond was never able to get closer as the Dees answered every punch the Tigers were able to throw.
Monique Conti did her best to get her side over the line and finished with a game-high 25-disposals, seven clearances, six tackles and a goal.
Eliza McNamara made a successful return to the Dees’ side (17-disposals and five tackles), while Karen Paxman (23-disposals, two clearances and a goal) was back to her best and Tyla Hanks (20-disposals, four tackles and four clearances) was more than serviceable.
Best-on-ground Hore kicked 2.3 and had 14 touches, three tackles and three clearances.
Trailing by a goal at quarter-time after being stunned by Richmond’s ferocity, the Dees needed someone to step up in the second term.
The first four scoring shots of the quarter came from the 26-year-old’s boot, kicking 2.2 inside eight-minutes to kickstart Melbourne and give her side the ascendancy.
Richmond’s defenders couldn’t get near Hore as she attacked the scoreboard in all manners, reading the ball off packs, winning a brave free-kick, and finding space to mark and convert from a set shot.
Bannan kicked one of the best running goals AFLW has seen when she was released by Lily Mithen in the middle of the ground.
At the 11-minute mark of the second quarter Bannan received a handball from Mithen between centre-wing and the centre-circle, before harnessing her background in athletics and taking off.
The 19-year-old took two bounces, ran to 30m from goal before steading and slotting the goal.
And for good measure Bannan kicked her second goal two-minutes later.
The Richmond Way
It was a passage of play that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a highlights package from Richmond’s three AFL premierships.
Ryan Ferguson has the Tigers playing the Richmond way and it couldn’t have been more evident than eight minutes into the first term when Richmond broke through the middle of the ground, shooting out of a stoppage with a chain of handballs before Lavey pumped the ball inside 50 to Brennan.
Brennan was able to turn her opponent and come back to the ball, marking strongly 40m out from goal. Her shot missed, but it was the ease at which the Tigers progressed the ball that caught the eye.
TIGERS 2.1 2.1 4.1 6.2 38
DEES 1.0 6.3 7.5 8.6 54
Tigers: Conti, Seymour, Lavey, Brennan, Cordner.
Dees: Hore, Paxman, McNamara, Hanks, Mithen.
Tigers: Lavey 2, Brennan 2, Dargan, Conti.
Dees: Hore 2, Bannan 2, Harris 2, D. Pearce, Paxman.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 K. Hore (MELB)
2 K. Paxman (MELB)
1 E. McNamara (MELB)