COLLINGWOOD has thrown Conference B wide open with a 29-point demolition of Brisbane at Hickey Park on Saturday.
The first AFL Women's game played in front of no crowd was one-way traffic from the outset as Collingwood was too tough, too quick and too polished to win 5.13 (43) to 2.2 (14).
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The four points moves the Magpies into equal second in their conference with Melbourne and Carlton – ahead of that pair's clash on Saturday night.
Collingwood led by 15 points at the first change and 24 at half-time, margins that could have been greater bar some inaccurate kicking.
They had to withstand a strong third quarter from the Lions, but were never really challenged.
Brittany Bonnici was the midfield catalyst, racking up eight of her game-high 26 disposals in the first quarter.
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The 22-year-old was everywhere, winning balls in the middle of the ground and often a nice link from defence or bail-out option to help outnumbered teammates.
Bri Davey (22) was also prolific, Jaimee Lambert (16 and six tackles) shook the attention of Cathy Svarc, while Steph Chiocci worked tirelessly to finish with 18 touches.
Sarah D'Arcy was terrific in the forward line, and her 1.4 told only part of her impact, with two shots at goal touched on the line as part of her six-mark outing.
Collingwood won the contested ball (93-74) and were able to get it into space, carving Brisbane up with 47 uncontested marks to 27.
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The only downside for the Magpies was the early injury to much-improved ruck Sharni Layton, who appeared to dislocate her finger in the first quarter and took no further part in the victory.
Eliza Hynes was thrust into the lead role and was a more than adequate replacement.
You can't go past Brittany Bonnici. Collingwood had a litany of quality players, but the headgeared midfielder shone brightest. Bonnici was everywhere, collecting 26 disposals (10 of them contested) that included five clearances. When Brisbane challenged in the second half, it was the 22-year-old that often bobbed up in the defensive 50 to help cut and minutes later would be back onball to drive Collingwood forward. She's a great foil to seasoned campaigners Davey, Chiocci and Lambert.
It was the perfect mix between inside and outside footy by the Magpies. The Lions have developed a reputation as one of the toughest teams in AFLW, but Collingwood smashed them at contested footy (97-76) and then more impressively beat them on the spread. The speed of ball movement and transition from end to end was eye-catching, with 47 uncontested marks to 27 a telling statistic.
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It was one of very few highlights for Brisbane in a flat performance, but Cathy Svarc's goal to start the third quarter was a beauty. After a nice chain of possessions from the back half, speedster Svarc ran on to a loose ball just inside the 50, took her full measure and steadied to bang through a superb goal on the run from 30m.
Your time to shine
When ruck Sharni Layton went off in the opening minutes with a dislocated finger, things could have got out of hand quickly for the visitors. Thankfully though, Collingwood had been playing two rucks in recent weeks, so it was now Eliza Hynes' chance to step up as the one-out ruck. She delivered. Hynes dominated the hit-outs, giving the Magpies a 33-15 advantage that they converted to a 23-15 clearance win. If Layton has to spend time on the sidelines, Collingwood are still in good hands.
"We're really pleased to come up here and bring our energy. Brisbane are a really good team. We knew they'd come at us at some stage, they're the number one hard ball contested team, so we knew they'd come at us physically. We put the bit between the teeth and wanted to show we were up for it," Collingwood coach Stephen Symonds.
"There was no atmosphere, you're playing in front of no-one. That's not a reason, that’s not an influence on the game. We were shell-shocked by the opposition who were hungrier and had more energy earlier in the game and we were playing catch-up after that," Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich.
The Lions have their second six-day break in succession, travelling to Melbourne for a rare Friday night game against Richmond at Ikon Park, starting at 6.45pm AEDT. Collingwood will be out to continue its march towards the finals when it hosts St Kilda on Sunday night at Victoria Park, with the game starting at 7.10pm AEDT.
BRISBANE 0.1 0.1 2.2 2.2 (14)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 3.7 3.10 5.13 (43)
Brisbane: Svarc, Davidson
Collingwood: Rowe, Alexander, Molloy, D'Arcy, Membrey
Brisbane: Lugg, Conway, Svarc, Davidson
Collingwood: Bonnici, Chiocci, Davey, D'Arcy, Lambert, Livingstone
Brisbane: Keeffe (ankle)
Collingwood: Layton (finger)
Umpires: Adair, Melin, Pell