It was a relief for Collingwood who were under enormous pressure in the first half as All-Australian defender Rory Laird ran riot through the middle to help the Crows to a nine-point lead at half-time, the first time they had led at the main break in 2020.
Unlike Collingwood the Crows had a forward target in Elliott Himmelberg who marked or brought the ball to ground whereas Collingwood’s forward line looked as lively as a Melbourne street during lockdown.
Brody Mihocek was one of four Magpies including Cameron, Chris Mayne and Tim Broomhead who blew scoring opportunities in the second quarter. It took veteran Lynden Dunn, in his first game for 773 days, to kick a goal when he took advantage of a 50-metre penalty, sparking wild celebrations.
But that turned in the third term when the Magpies began to win around the contest and move the ball forward quickly. For the first time in a month their ground-level players had space to operate within the forward 50.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said their start was slow but once they gained an edge in the contest the game went their way.
“We were outhunted and they were far too clean for us in stoppages,” Buckley said.
“It was a slow arm wrestle until we were able to hit the scoreboard.”
They also kicked straight with five goals in a quarter a massive return given that Collingwood had not kicked 60 points in a match since round four.
Once the scoreboard began to turn in the Magpies’ favour they began to play with the confidence befitting a team which has made consecutive preliminary finals against a side that remains winless for more than 12 months.
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks bemoaned his team’s inability to take advantage on the scoreboard of their dominance in the first half and then they gave away goals in the second half conceding poor turnovers.
“We were our own worst enemy,” Nicks said.
It sets up a vital match for the Magpies against Melbourne on Saturday, a head knock to Jordan Roughead their only new injury worry.
NOT DUNN YET
After two knee reconstructions and a 773-day absence Lynden Dunn was the feel-good story of the game. As Collingwood struggled to kick a goal in the first half they needed a spark. With less than five minutes remaining the 33-year-old provided it when he took advantage of a 50-metre penalty to kick his first goal since round 10, 2017. The man with a haircut Michael Bolton would disown was predictably mobbed.
KEY CROW HAMSTRUNG
Mobile forward Tom Lynch has been filling a few holes during 2020 as he attempts to lead the way in a tough season. In his 150th game however his night went the same way as his year when he hurt his hamstring in the second quarter and headed to the bench, looking clearly frustrated. Collingwood then lost Roughead late in the third quarter after copping a big hit from Adelaide’s Darcy Fogarty in a marking contest while the Crows copped a second blow when defender Tom Doedee appeared to hurt his hamstring late too. “We have our fingers crossed with both that they are not too bad,” Nicks said.
RUSCOE TO THE RESCUE
In just his second game and with Magpie fans around the country joining his now famous mum for a nervous ‘durry’ as Collingwood struggled to shake off Adelaide, Ruscoe became the unlikely hero in the third term when he kicked two important crumbing goals in succession to give his team a narrow break. He celebrated as he should and brought a smile to Pie fans’ faces.
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 2.1 7.1 10.2 (62)
ADELAIDE 2.1 3.4 3.8 5.8 (38)
Collingwood: Stephenson 2, Cameron 2, Ruscoe 2, Dunn, Daicos, Mihocek, Thomas.
Adelaide: Himmelberg 2, Stengle 2, McAdam.
Collingwood: Adams, Crisp, Maynard, Sidebottom, Noble, Brown.
Adelaide: Laird, Crouch, Doedee, Smith, Stengle
Collingwood: Roughead (head knock).
Adelaide: Lynch (hamstring), Doedee (hamstring).
Peter Ryan is a sports reporter with The Age covering AFL, horse racing and other sports.