A directionless and dull Collingwood was embarrassed by an injury-plagued GWS to the tune of 30-points on Saturday night.
The Pies entered the game as raging favourites after a spate of injuries to the Giants left them without much of their seasoned talent and Collingwood enjoyed an extra three-day break.
But stand-in skipper Toby Greene tore the game apart early as Collingwood continued to struggle to capitalise on inside 50s during a dysfunctional first half.
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The Pies’ lack of creativity and use of the corridor was a concern as they penned themselves into the wide expanses of the MCG time and again.
Every switch seemed to put them on the boundary line as corridor options weren’t taken or worse, didn’t exist.
It wasn’t until Mason Cox took a mark right on the defensive 50m paint and took off up the middle in the second quarter that the Pies played with any verve.
Minutes later Jeremy Howe found himself in metres of space coming out of true centre-half back but stopped to look wide rather than eat up the paddock in front of him.
Eventually the Collingwood star pumped a ball down the middle and Brody Mihocek got on the end of the play and kicked a goal.
But if you thought that might inspire a change in philosophy for the Pies, you’d be wrong, as they continued to use the wings to go forward.
A late rally gave Collingwood a sniff as they cut the margin to 10-points in the last quarter, but the gutsy Giants weren’t to be denied, recording another famous backs to the wall win against the Pies at the home of footy.
WARD WINDS IT BACK
Callan Ward looked in trouble early in the game with a leg injury, as doubts about him continuing the game raged.
But the 31-year-old former skipper turned back the clock and was one of the most dominant players on the ground.
Ward, along with Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, smashed the Collingwood midfield, each collecting more than 30 touches, while Ward got his hands on the footy first time and again to finish with seven clearances.
It looked that Brodie Grundy was back to his best following his dominant performance last week, but 34-year-old veteran Shane Mumford had other ideas.
As he did in 2020, Mumford made a Round 4 return to the Giants’ side to tackle Grundy and the Pies, and Collingwood must be sick of the sight of him.
Collingwood’s All-Australian ruckman was smashed around the ball, as Mumford propelled the Giants forward on eight occasions with clearances.
Collingwood’s small forward unit has been one of its most dysfunctional areas in 2021 after being a key to its Grand Final run a few years ago.
The likes of Josh Thomas, Will Hoskin-Elliott and Callum Brown have come under heavy scrutiny in the early parts of the season after kicking two goals between them coming into Round 4, but the addition of Beau McCreery reaped immediate rewards for the Pies.
After the Giants kicked the first of the night Collingwood need someone to ignite them. Enter the 19-year-old.
McCreery swooped on a ball that was knocked back off the goal line by Mason Cox and with his first kick in AFL toe poked through goal at the six-minute mark to get Collingwood going.
What would’ve impressed Pies fans was the forward pressure to go with the smart finish, as he finished with eight tackles.
In the absence of Stephen Coniglio, Toby Greene stepped into the captain’s shoes for the first time in his career and they fit like a charm.
The 27-year-old ripped the Pies to shreds in a low-scoring first half, kicking three goals to the main break to go with a goal assist.
Historically Brayden Maynard has gone to the livewire Giant, but Collingwood through a fresh look at Greene with Isaac Quaynor given the chance to nullify GWS’ main goal threat.
But Greene was able to work off the third-year Pie at will and Brayden Maynard was eventually moved to the Giant halfway through the third quarter before he finished with five goals and 18 disposals.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 4.5 7.6 9.6 (60)
GWS 2.2 6.3 10.3 14.6 (90)
Magpies: De Goey 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Mihocek, Madgen, Daicos, McCreery, Thomas
Giants: Greene 5, Finlayson 4, Kelly 2, Hill, Riccardi, Himmelberg.
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S BEST
Magpies: Sidebottom, Madgen, Crisp, Maynard
Giants: Greene, Ward, Mumford, Taranto, Hopper, Ash
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 — T. Greene (GWS)
2 — C. Ward (GWS)
1 — S. Mumford (GWS)
Magpies: Sier (ill), Adams (knee)
UMPIRES: Donlon, Stevic, Glouftsis.