Magpies coach Steve Symonds’ decision to move star Chloe Molloy forward this year reaped early dividends, with the renowned defender kicking two of the Pies’ four goals in a second-term barrage. Molloy’s aerial strength and class shone, while she added an exclamation mark to the romp by booting one of her majors over the Legends Stand and out of the ground.
“It’s always great to start the season on a positive note. We’re very happy,” Symonds said.
His counterpart, Carlton coach Daniel Harford, was left to rue Collingwood’s explosive performance.
“When you get four goals kicked against you in eight, 10 minutes, it’s difficult to come back from,” Harford said.
Playing against the side of which she was once captain for the first time, recently appointed Pies co-captain Bri Davey also had a major say in proceedings, throwing her weight around throughout the night and kicking a goal during her side’s second term run. Davey was in the wars, assessed after a head knock and winded heavily in the second quarter but her bruises paved the way for the Collingwood win.
Ruby Schleicher was also a key playmaker for the Pies when the whips were cracking, while Jaimee Lambert led the way in the middle as ever.
Down by 26 points at the long break, the Blues finally gave their forwards a chance in the third term as Madi Prespakis and Abbie McKay started winning the lion’s share of ball out of the middle. Goals from former Pie Nicola Stevens, Darcy Vescio and Jess Hosking (the first of her AFLW career) cut the margin back to eight points but some deft work from Lambert allowed Irishwoman Aishling Sheridan to kick her second of the night and ease pressure on the Pies heading into the final change.
Collingwood did enough in the final term to prevail in front of a crowd of 6712, with a Kerryn Harrington goal on the siren cutting the margin to a goal. Pie Aliesha Newman was reported for a late sling tackle on Vaomua Laloifi.
TAYL OF THE TAPE
It was the most keenly anticipated match-up in the lead-up to the season-opener but the battle between Carlton star Tayla Harris and Collingwood defender Stacey Livingstone was something of a fizzer. That owed in large part to the fact the ball barely got down to the pair, as evidenced by an inside 50 count slanted 19-5 the Magpies’ way at half-time. Harris made her presence felt by collecting Pie Jordyn Allen heavily in a second-quarter marking contest but was largely a non-factor when the game was on the line. Harris outmarked Livingstone early in the the third term but couldn’t make the distance with her set shot.
The night’s most moving image came before the bounce when players from both sides, as well as the umpires, formed a circle and observed a moment’s silence to honour the memory of Jacinda Barclay, the Greater Western Sydney player who died suddenly last October at 29. Fans also stood to remember the foundation Giant, who also played baseball and American football to a high standard.
Having famously had to apologise to fans after a lockout at the first ever AFLW game in 2017, AFL chief Gillon McLachlan was again on hand this time around, attending with his wife Laura. Outgoing Collingwood president Eddie McGuire missed that 2017 date but wasn’t about to skip the 2021 iteration, doubtless taking delight in the Pies’ procession. Sport minister and keen Blues fan Martin Pakula was also on hand but wouldn’t have liked what he saw, while Collingwood father-daughter player Tarni Brown’s AFLW debut was watched on by older brother and Pies-listed pair Callum and Tyler Brown.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter