Despite the 16-point loss to the Bulldogs on Friday night, there was plenty to take out of the game as a learning opportunity for the Pies.
Here are the 5 things that we learned from the match:
Moore's All Australian qualities on show
Darcy Moore was undoubtedly the Pies best player on Friday night, leading the team from the back half.
Under siege for a significant portion of the match, it was Moore’s dedication to the contest combined with his speed and strength that kept the Bulldogs from hitting the scoreboard more often than they did.
Quite often Moore found himself flying across a pack, diving in front of a leading Bulldogs forward, or landing a last ditch tackle.
A dimension Moore has added to his game in the past couple of seasons, has been his ability to rebound the Pies from defensive 50 into attack. This was particularly prevalent on Friday night, with multiple flourishes forward a result of Darcy springing the Pies off defensive 50.
Defence into offence
Once again it was the half-back line that generated most of the Pies’ scoring opportunities throughout the match on Friday night.
With rebounding out of defensive 50 widely considered one of the main strengths of the Collingwood side, it was no surprise when the likes of Jeremy Howe, Brayden Maynard and John Noble started to have a significant impact as the Pies wrestled for momentum.
Maynard finished with 21 touches, 18 kicks and 685 meters gained (match high).
Noble had 22 touches for the night, 18 of them being kicks and 9 contested possessions.
Crisp in the midfield
Having built his career as a rebounding half-back, Jack Crisp found himself with significant midfield minutes on Friday night.
It was evident throughout the night that the Bulldogs speed and run on the outside of the contest was a significant threat. So when Bucks threw Crisp into the midfield, it helped nullify the likes of Bailey Smith and Jack Macrae.
Crisp was able to utilise his defensive awareness combined with his own speed and damaging line-breaking kick to help bolster the Collingwood midfield. Exemplified most clearly when Pendlebury handed the ball over to Crisp who launched from outside 50 to goal late in the second quarter.
Pendles up forward?
Quite often Pendlebury will find himself hovering around defensive 50 when he’s resting from the midfield, but a role in the forward line was a change up from Bucks that Pies fans don’t see very often.
Needing a spark in front of the goals, Pendlebury was sent forward in an attempt to add leadership in the forward line, while also using his experience, class and silky skills to hit the scoreboard.
The move paid off almost immediately with Pendlebury bullishly running through a tackle before handing it off to Jamie Elliott for an easy snap.
With a lot of the premier midfielders in the competition adding new dimensions to their game alongside a decrease in interchange rotations, perhaps a role in the forward line will see Pendlebury become increasingly dynamic during the 2021 season.
Finding the right forward mix
With only 7 goals for the night, it was apparent that the forward line structure struggled to function efficiently against a stringent Bulldogs backline.
"We need to keep looking at a mix in our front half that works for us. Due to a lack of supply it’s hard to look at properly," Bucks pointed out during his post-game press conference.
The connection between the forward and midfield lines struggled throughout the night, quite often both Mason Cox and Brody Mihocek having to support the defence, leaving a lack of marking options up the ground.
With 6 days until a blockbuster meeting with Carlton at the MCG, the Pies don't have long to start to rework their forward structure.
COLLINGWOOD 1.2. 4.6. 5.7. 7.11. (53)
BULLDOGS 3.2. 6.5. 9.7. 10.9. (69)