A LOWER leg injury to boom recruit Bri Davey has soured an otherwise history-making win for a revamped Collingwood over newcomer West Coast at Victoria Park on Sunday.
Davey, who was making her first AFLW appearance for the Magpies since sensationally crossing from Carlton, landed awkwardly on her left leg in a marking duel late in the third quarter.
After writhing in pain, the gun midfielder hobbled off in the hands of trainers and didn't take any further part in proceedings.
Amid concerns that Davey had suffered another serious knee injury – she ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee as a Blue in round two, 2018 – the Magpies remained optimistic about her condition.
It mattered little in the context of the game as by that stage the Magpies had taken control of the contest on their way to finally breaking through for their first victory inside the opening three rounds of the AFLW season before an appreciative crowd of 6100 at their spiritual home.
The 2019 wooden spooner absorbed the Eagles' early shots and steamed home to ensure a positive start under new coach Steve Symonds, winning 5.8 (38) to 1.5 (11).
PIES RUIN EAGLES' AFLW DEBUT Full match coverage and stats
In warm, hazy, blustery conditions, the Eagles, who unveiled 11 AFLW debutants, had started with great vigour with the breeze to register all nine forward entries in the first term and kept the Pies scoreless, but the plucky upstarts managed just one goal, the first of their history, courtesy of vice-captain Dana Hooker.
When they changed ends it was Collingwood's turn to dominate and after successive behinds from Jordy Allen the home side finally gave their fans dual celebrations via goals to star Chloe Molloy in her first AFLW game in almost two years, and the brilliant Jaimee Lambert. This pair was a constant threat and the Pies were never headed thereafter.
The Magpies were well served by skipper Steph Chiocci, whose two-way running was an inspiration to her teammates, while defenders Stacey Livingstone and debutant Alana Porter repelled numerous attacks.
The visitors were well led by captain Emma Swanson and Hooker, while forward Grace Kelly was lively.
One of the biggest highlights was improving cross-coder Sharni Layton's first goal of her AFLW career in the final term.
The Eagles were also one short on the bench after defender Ashton Hill suffered a knee injury in second quarter.
An early milestone
The Eagles ran onto an AFLW field for the first time backed by their reworked theme song, and it took them only four minutes of play to nail their first goal. After a stoppage deep in attack, gun recruit Dana Hooker snapped truly and was swamped by her teammates. It was a special moment.
With a strong breeze ensuring the majority of play was at the Sherrin Stand end, it was patently clear from the outset that any scoring to the Yarra Falls end would be worth its weight in gold. It wasn't until the third quarter that either team scored against the wind. Midway through the term Pies captain Steph Chiocci's snap sailed out on the full, but she made amends two minutes later with a neat running goal. It stretched the Pies' lead to 12 points.
Scoring issues have plagued the Pies since their inception, and even in the pre-season it seemed they might encounter more problems forward of centre. Coach Symonds' deployment of both the returning Molloy and reigning club champion Jaimee Lambert in forward roles bore fruit with the duo's creativity and hardness providing greater opportunities.
Back to the future
A return to Victoria Park brought the Magpie Army back to their homeland, and they seemed to lap up every moment of their team's ice-breaking victory. When the Pies had established an insurmountable lead the black-and-white faithful produced a stirring chant of "Collingwooooooood", which the players relished on an important afternoon for the team.
"It's nice to have a good start. The first quarter we looked a bit nervous and didn't really think our way through a few situations but (from) quarter-time onwards we started to get our game going. We were really pleased with the result in the end." - Collingwood coach Steve Symonds
"We were really happy. It was out third ever game together. There was a lot to like … but we probably fell a little bit short in some of the contests." – West Coast coach Luke Dwyer
The @eaglesaflw begin their NAB #AFLW journey in Pies heartland, but the blue and gold faithful are there in numbers to welcome them out ??#AFLWPiesEagles pic.twitter.com/nSPmrcb47H— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) February 9, 2020
The victorious Magpies confront arch enemy Carlton at Ikon Park at 3.10pm on Sunday, while the Eagles face a six-day turnaround before hosting their first derby against crosstown rival Fremantle at Optus Stadium at 7.10pm on Saturday night.
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
COLLINGWOOD 0.0 2.2 3.4 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST 1.2 1.2 1.4 1.5 (11)
Collingwood: Molloy, Lambert, Chiocci, Layton, Darcy
West Coast: Hooker
Collingwood: Chiocci, Lambert, Livingstone, Molloy, Layton, Porter
West Coast: Hooker, Swanson, Kelly, Cameron
Collingwood: Davey (lower leg)
West Coast: Hill (knee)
Crowd: 6100 at Victoria Park