Grundy stars as Collingwood tame Bulldogs

Shayne Hope
Brody Mihocek (L) has kicked three goals in Collingwood's 52-point AFL win over the Western Bulldogs

Brodie Grundy's shadow loomed large over the Western Bulldogs again as the All-Australian big man led Collingwood to a 52-point win on Friday night with a dominant display in the ruck.

Grundy earned a maximum six Brownlow votes from two matches against the Bulldogs last year and re-asserted his authority early at Marvel Stadium as the Magpies kicked the first four goals of their 2020 season opener.

They piled on eight of the first nine majors before the Dogs finally bit back, but the damage had been done as Collingwood held their opponents at arm's length for most of the night to post a comfortable 13.8 (86) to 5.4 (34) victory.

It was an impressive first-up display by Nathan Buckley's side, who won the contested possession count by 30 in a match-up between two teams widely expected to finish towards the pointy end of the ladder this season.

The Magpies' midfield masterclass was led by the usual suspects, with skipper Scott Pendlebury (25 disposals) shaking off a health scare and Taylor Adams (26) overcoming a hip injury to play key roles.

Chris Mayne (29) and Steele Sidebottom (26) were also busy as Jeremy Howe played his intercepting role to perfection across half-back.

Grundy again got the measure of highly-rated Bulldogs youngster Tim English to provide a platform for the Pies clearance advantage (34-21), which included a 15-5 dominance in centre square clearances.

The Pies' star was almost as effective at ground level as he was in the air, kicking an early goal and finishing with 19 disposals, four clearances and five inside-50s.

He had 37 hit-outs to English's 11 and was awarded the Bob Rose-Charlie Sutton Medal as best afield, with Collingwood claiming the Robert Rose Cup.

"He's an elite player in the competition but it's not necessarily about his numbers, it's going to be about how he connects with his teammates," Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said.

"He understands and accepts that if his averages for hit-outs or possessions drop a little, it's irrelevant.

"It's largely about his impact and influence on the team, and we've worked really hard over the off-season to maximise that and to improve it because, quite frankly, it's an area that we can still improve in."

Wayward goal-kicking prevented Grundy (1.3) having an even bigger impact as Brody Mihocek (three), Josh Daicos and Mason Cox (two each) all kicked multiple majors.

Son-of-a-gun Tyler Brown finished with 15 disposals in a lively AFL debut and set up brother Callum Brown for a first-quarter goal that brought their family to their feet in the otherwise empty stands.

Lachie Hunter (21 disposals) and Bailey Smith (23) worked hard but the Bulldogs were ultimately outclassed in the middle, which led to a lop-sided inside-50 count (42-22).

The Bulldogs' new-look tall forward line wasn't given a good opportunity to shine.

Josh Bruce, Aaron Naughton and Lewis Young managed just one goal between them, to former St Kilda spearhead Bruce.

Mature-age debutant Ben Cavarra booted a goal with his first kick for the Bulldogs.