AFL MAGPIES SAINTS
Like so many aspects of the 2020 AFL season, Collingwood's clash with St Kilda at the MCG was a bit unusual at times, but the Pies were able to restore a level of normality long enough to secure a 44-point win.
Nathan Buckley's men were criticised for a disjointed, dour performance in a draw against Richmond at the same venue in round two, but they were far more impressive in a first half that set up the 12.9 (81) to 5.7 (37) win.
Steele Sidebottom starred with 31 possessions and a goal as the Pies doubled last week's tally of five majors in the first half on Saturday to lead by 38 points at the main break.
They managed just two goals in the second half but that was enough to account for the Saints, who booted just one as the match devolved into a grim stalemate.
"The reality of what we're going to see in the early stages of this season, off the back of the preparation we've had, is an inconsistency in the way the games are played," Buckley said.
"The first half compared to the second half was evidence of that.
"But for the most part our pressure on them was consistent.
"We dropped off in the third quarter and the game changed but our intent to come forward rather than collapse, which is what we saw late against Richmond, was really positive."
Scott Pendlebury (26 disposals), Jack Crisp (24), Brayden Maynard (23) and Taylor Adams (19) were important in helping to put on a more fluent display of ball movement.
Brodie Grundy took on Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder in the ruck and clearly took the honours with 20 touches and 31 hit-outs.
In his first game for the season, Jaidyn Stephenson booted two goals, as did Jamie Elliott, Brody Mihocek and Adams.
Brett Ratten kept his players on the ground for a stern talking to at halftime after the deficit blew out, but the coach didn't get the desired result.
"We probably over-finessed the ball early, just turned it over, and they got some momentum," Ratten said.
"There's no doubt over the four quarters they were tougher and harder in the contest than us.
"Their ability to be cleaner in the contest was evident."
Bradley Hill was among his new team's best players again with 25 touches, while Richmond premiership player Dan Butler continued his impressive start with 16 possessions and two goals.