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A massive crowd packed into the MCG to witness the blockbuster between the improving Richmond Tigers and perennial powerhouse Collingwood. Tiger supporters' confidence was high after a 3-0 start and they were excited by the chance to prove their credentials against one of the best teams in the League. The Magpies were keen to put the Black and Gold army back in their place and re-assert their authority at the top of the AFL pecking order.

The Tigers settled early with goals to Jack Riewoldt and Ty Vickery and had a 13 point lead at the six-minute mark of the first quarter. Both sides had plenty of the football but it wasn’t until the 11th minute that the Magpies hit the scoreboard with a goal to Travis Cloke. After a quiet game in Round Three, Steele Sidebottom was proving a capable ally for the big guns in Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury, winning plenty of contested footy around the expanses of the MCG. After a sluggish start, Collingwood was having the better of the contest but could not convert, with costly misses to Sidebottom, Cloke, Elliot and Fasolo. With quarter time approaching, the feisty Jake King pounced on a loose football, spun onto his right boot and launched a sensational goal just prior to the siren sounding to end the first stanza. Quarter time scores had the Tigers in front 21 points to 10 despite the Magpies spending more time in their forward 50 meter arc.

The second quarter had Cloke bobbing up again, converting from 30 meters out to bring the margin back to five points. The big man was giving Alex Rance a major headache with new partner in crime Troy Chaplin not working hard enough to cut off the flow of footy from the Collingwood midfield. Just a minute later Jack Riewoldt had a shot on goal that landed short, only for Luke McGuane to mark strongly and goal for Richmond. The fierce tackling of Collingwood was putting the Tigers under enormous pressure and they were caught napping as Marty Clarke drifted down to mark and goal for the Magpies. Forward turned back man Ricky Petterd coughed up an easy marking attempt in the Richmond backline, resulting in a Cloke recovery and Sidebottom goal to put the Magpies in front at the 12 minute mark. It was the sort of mistake that Richmond fans had seen all too much of in the past, and had been hoping to see a lot less of this season. With Collingwood getting on top in the clearance work and on the scoreboard, the Tigers slowed the game down in an attempt to wrestle control of the game back in their favour. After a couple of misses from each team, a long bomb from Chris Newman found Shane Edwards who marked strongly and goaled to give the Tigers the lead once again. Sidebottom goaled for the Magpies before Vickery regained the lead again for the Tigers, fans of each team having plenty to roar about as the half time siren sounded. At the half, the Tigers led by just three points in an entertaining contest. Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin were getting plenty of the play for Richmond, while Dane Swan had plenty of possessions and was using them to great effect. Pendlebury and Sidebottom were also looking the goods for the Magpies.

Early in the third quarter a soft 50 meter penalty after a Quentin Lynch mark gifted the Magpies a goal before Cloke was once again in the thick of things, kicking his fourth goal and letting his opponent Rance know all about it. Just a minute later Cloke marked again before kicking goal number five, forcing Richmond coach Damien Hardwick to move Chaplin onto Cloke in what proved a futile attempt to quell his dominance. With Collingwood swiftly out to a 16 point lead, the Magpie faithful could smell Tiger blood. Sidebottom continued to shine, snapping another Magpie goal at the 14 minute mark of the quarter. Brandon Ellis was subbed into the game for Shane Tuck, with Richmond desperate to keep pace with a dominant Magpie midfield and forward line. Coach Nathan Buckley injected super-sub Dale Thomas into the Collingwood fray minutes later, sending namesake Josh Thomas out of the game. Nineteen minutes in and it was Travis Cloke launching a sensational goal from outside the 50 meter arc, blowing the lead out to 30 points as Richmond searched frantically for answers. A tight game at the half had been completely transformed, with Cloke dominating the contest while Harry O’Brien and Heath Shaw launched numerous attacks out of defense. O’Brien got into the act for the Magpies with another goal before Sidebottom added another and Collingwood were on the rampage. With a 43 point lead crafted in 20 minutes of devastating footy, any dreams of a 4-0 start for the Tigers were dead and buried. Bachar Houli and Riewoldt managed late goals for Richmond to stem the Collingwood onslaught, but at three quarter time the Magpies held a match-winning 37 point lead.

Only the most die-hard of Tiger fans could entertain the idea of a win against such quality opposition when behind by more than six goals. Cloke was the major concern as he threatened to keep pounding the Tiger backs into submission, with a massive thrashing being the potential and fearsome result.

To their credit Richmond did come out firing in the last quarter but could not convert numerous attempts on goal. Six minutes in and their hard work was rewarded with a Riewoldt goal, his third, and the margin was back to 28 points. Ivan Maric pinched another one for the Tigers, but the great man Dane Swan – playing his 200th club game - had the Magpie army screaming in delight as his goal stemmed any thought of a famous Richmond fight back. Things went from bad to worse as spiritual Tiger leader Jake King limped off the park with an injury. Cloke banged through number seven and let the Tiger fans know how happy he was, sealing the Black and White victory with the lead back out to 36 points. Late goals to McGuane and Jamie Dwyer for Collingwood saw the final margin a 34 point victory for Collingwood.

A look at the match statistics shows that Collingwood were stronger in contested possession, inside 50’s and tackles. The lack of tackles by Richmond is a massive concern, something that will not show up as much against inferior opposition but will burn the Tigers against a hardened competitor like Collingwood. The next two rounds against Fremantle and Geelong will give a strong indication of whether the Tigers are genuine Finals contenders or just pretenders. For Collingwood, Travis Cloke completely dominated proceedings with Richmond simply not getting enough double-team work into stopping his run at the footy. Sidebottom, Swan and Pendlebury were excellent for the Magpies who have the luxury of Jolly, Beams, Maxwell, Goldsack and a fully fit Dale Thomas to return to the team. There is no doubt in any footy fan’s mind that Collingwood is a Top Four team and a major Premiership contender.

Richmond:    3.3 6.5  8.6  11.13 (79)
Collingwood: 1.4 5.8 13.12 16.17 (113)

Best Players
Richmond:    Cotchin, Deledio, Jackson, Houli
Collingwood: Cloke, Sidebottom, Shaw, O'Brien, Reid, Swan 

Article last changed on Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 12:39 AM EDT

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