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Pies flex their muscle

Taz is back Chris Tarrant goals on his long-awaited return
Scott Pendlebury made an impressive return against the Cats
Last weekend, the Magpies were left wondering just where it all went wrong against Carlton.

Fast-forward eight days and any confidence lost in that defeat has been restored courtesy of a 31-point win over Geelong on Saturday night at the MCG.

A stunning eight goal-to-two first quarter set up the 17.8 (110) to 10.19 (79) win, with Scott Pendlebury - on return after missing four games with a fractured leg - picking up a remarkable 36 touches.

Chris Tarrant also returned from injury and was thrown forward to excellent effect for Collingwood.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley later said it had been "crucial" for the Pies to respond to last week's performance.
"You're looking for the inspiration and the reason to find that intensity all the time, and you need to keep backing up and finding that sort of intensity against any opposition," Buckley said.
"But clearly after a poor performance where there were question marks over your competiveness and your intensity, it was important to bounce back pretty quickly."

The weather radar indicated the rain was over Ballarat but the 61,717 in attendance would disagree, given the soaking they received throughout the first half. 

During that time, mistakes were rife in the Cats' camp, with five of the Pies' first-term goals coming from turnovers.

The 34-point lead at quarter-time came as the Pies registered their best first term against Geelong since round four, 1948.

A free kick to Darren Jolly on the siren, courtesy of high contact from Matthew Scarlett in a marking contest, gave the Pies their seventh goal-kicker.

The Travis Cloke-Chris Dawes combination was scoreless, but Dale Thomas had two goals and Tarrant - in his third game for the year and in attack for the first time in a while - one.

Geelong tried to peg one back early in the second but Steve Johnson's decision to use a banana kick on a 45-degree angle set shot backfired.

In response, Collingwood defender-turned-forward Tyson Goldsack wheeled around and goaled to put the Pies 39 points clear a minute later.

In a damp half, James Kelly, Corey Enright and Johnson collected plenty of the ball but the Pies were more prepared to commit to the tough stuff, with the contested possession count blowing out to 83 to 69.

Harry O'Brien, who was largely loose in defence, had his calf treated at quarter time but it was Simon Buckley who was subbed at half-time with a corked hip.

The Cats responded to the main break difference of 46 points with unanswered goals to Joel Selwood and Paul Chapman in the first nine minutes.

It could have been three, had a goal line review gone the other way. At the four-minute mark, Selwood thought he had kicked a goal along the ground from point-blank range, but Steele Sidebottom appealed to the umpire, indicating his boot had touched it.

After a deliberation that lasted more than two minutes, the decision was deemed inconclusive and a point was awarded.

The Pies then kicked four goals to one to lead by 48 points at the last change.

In the fourth, Tom Lonergan continued to dominate Cloke and it was only then the Magpie forward kicked a goal and took his first - and only - mark of the night.

Geelong coach Chris Scott wasn't happy with the Cats' first quarter, which saw the Pies set the tone early.
"I don't think we played well early, and I thought we were pretty good for three quarters after that," Scott said.
"But it's clear that our level at the moment ... is not where we needs it to be."
"We just try to win next week. That's all you can do."

Scott said Lonergan was "clearly their best player".
"It was almost the perfect game as a key defender, under extreme pressure," he said.

2.4      3.8     6.13    10.19 (79)
  8.2      11.6    15.7    17.8 (110)

West 2, Motlop 2, Selwood 2, Chapman, Hawkins, Stokes, Sheringham
Thomas 3, Beams 2, Dawes 2, Goldsack 2, Fasolo 2, Tarrant 2, Elliott, Jolly, Maxwell, Cloke
Lonergan, Kelly, Johnson, Guthrie, Selwood, West
Swan, Beams, Pendlebury, Thomas, Shaw, Blair, Jolly, Tarrant, O'Brien

Buckley (migraine)

Jackson Sheringham replaced Mathew Stokes during the third quarter
Martin Clarke replaced Simon Buckley (migraine) at half-time


Rosebury, Stewart, Nicholls

Official crowd:
61,717 at the MCG

Jennifer Witham is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenWitham.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs