COLLINGWOOD delivered the steadier its season desperately required on Sunday, overcoming a stubborn West Coast in sweltering conditions at Mineral Resources Park to restore hope to its finals charge with a 24-point win.
Having lost successive games heading into the daunting road trip, the Magpies rammed home four straight goals just before three-quarter time to ease clear of the Eagles on their way to a necessary 7.4 (46) to 3.4 (22) victory.
Chloe Molloy was shifted into the midfield and delivered a masterful performance, finishing with 18 disposals and two goals to provide the ever-reliable Britt Bonnici (27 disposals, one goal) and Jaimee Lambert (23 disposals) with the perfect onball companion.
West Coast was led admirably by Dana Hooker (21 disposals, one goal) and Emma Swanson (19 disposals), who battled hard all afternoon as the temperature soared beyond 30 degrees. But the Eagles lacked firepower when it mattered most and were made to pay.
EAGLES v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
Collingwood had come into the clash having kicked just two goals in its last two matches, yet the Pies matched that total within 10 minutes on Sunday as Molloy and Sophie Alexander gave the visitors just reward for a blistering start.
But when an early blowout looked ominously on the horizon, West Coast responded resolutely. Buoyed by their first win of the season last week, the Eagles applied the brakes and held the visitors goalless for well over a quarter to keep the deficit manageable.
When the dangerous Niamh Kelly reduced the margin to single figures early in the second half, the time came for a Collingwood response of its own. Typically, it was Molloy – with a superb snap around her body – who provided it.
It kickstarted a run of four straight Magpie goals to finish the third term, enough to ensure that an otherwise defiant Eagles couldn't produce one more fighting finish. Instead, it was left to Bonnici to add the sealer that both she and her side duly deserved.
West Coast's defenders might have been asking themselves that question when Stacey Livingstone trotted into the Collingwood forward 50 to start the match. In the absence of Sabrina Frederick, who entered the AFL's health and safety protocols this week, Livingstone was shifted into an attacking role on Sunday. She provided a nice target, finishing with eight disposals and three marks. However, unfortunately her first ever AFLW goal wasn't forthcoming.
Missing a host of key midfielders through injury, Collingwood pulled the trigger on playing Chloe Molloy out of the centre. Eight disposals and a goal to quarter time was enough to suggest it was probably the right move. Molloy dominated through her game smarts and her creativity to emerge as the game's most influential player, finishing with 18 touches and two important majors for the match.
Work in progress
West Coast's starts have left a lot to be desired this season, with Sunday the fifth time in six matches the side has been held goalless to the first change. It was also the third time in six that the Eagles had been held scoreless. Against Collingwood, the hosts were completely outplayed in the game's early stages and trailed the inside-50 count a whopping 3-18 in the opening term. From there, the hosts were playing catch up all afternoon.
"We just looked at the numbers then and it was stark, the first half compared to the second half. Poor starts in games get you nowhere and sides that play a good brand of footy like Collingwood will really hurt us. It was pleasing to get some things going our way in that second half, but I think the damage had already been done." – West Coast coach Michael Prior.
"Today was a good chance for our group to be able to reset and get themselves back on track again. I thought we started to show some signs that we were returning to the brand of footy that we know we can play and that we enjoy playing." – Collingwood coach Steve Symonds.
West Coast is due to remain in Western Australia, where it is fixtured to host Richmond at Mineral Resources Park next Saturday night. Collingwood is on the road again, scheduled to play North Melbourne at North Hobart Oval on Sunday.
WEST COAST 0.0 0.1 1.2 3.4 (22)
COLLINGWOOD 2.0 2.3 6.3 7.4 (46)
West Coast: N.Kelly, Hooker, Cameron
Collingwood: Molloy 2, Alexander 2, Cann, Velardo, Bonnici
West Coast: Hooker, Swanson, N.Kelly, Schmidt, Thomas
Collingwood: Molloy, Bonnici, Lambert, Butler, Rowe, Cann, Alexander
West Coast: Nil
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