Sport AFL Collingwood surge past AFL’s rising Suns

Collingwood surge past AFL’s rising Suns

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Guy McKenna branded it the best half of football his rising Suns have produced since Gold Coast kicked off in the AFL.

But, for Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, the alarming 41-point contrast between the two sides at Metricon Stadium was more of a worrying concern about the Magpies’ desire heading into their 2014 campaign.

The Suns were faster, hungrier and more polished in a dominant first half on Sunday as revelled in the wide, open spaces at Carrara.

Charlie Dixon was the dominant forward and the Coast’s on-ball division, missing Gary Ablett due to a bizarre cooking accident, completely outpointed Buckley’s full-strength midfield.

But the one-way traffic went in the opposite direction after halftime as Travis Cloke stood tall to bag six majors and the Magpies kicked 12 goals to four for a 16.15 (111) to 14.13 (97) victory.

Buckley showed little relief as Cloke sealed the win late with back-to-back goals after three lead changes in the final quarter.

“The win is irrelevant for us,” he said. “The question out of the game is how do you play so poorly at the beginning when that effort is so clearly there at the end.

“When you give the opposition a look in and your intensity is not there then you see what you get,” Buckley said.

“It was chalk and cheese in the second half, and I’m encouraged by that, but the larger question is how do we achieve that for four quarters.

“We’ve clearly got a bit of work to do.”

Collingwood meet 2013 runners-up Fremantle in Friday week’s season-opener and Dockers coach Ross Lyon was a conspicuous on-looker high in the Metricon stands.

There was little to bother Lyon for round one until the Magpies, goalless in the first term, clicked into gear after the main break.

The Suns did rest their two main ball-winners, Michael Rischitelli and Dion Prestia, at halftime and McKenna felt that was a factor.

Jaeger O’Meara was also rested in the last term, leaving them without four of their best midfielders.

Ablett had been listed as nursing a quad cork but McKenna revealed the reigning Brownlow Medallist would have played if not for burning his hand while cooking at home last week.

The Suns captain is not in doubt for their round one encounter with Richmond on Saturday week, which looms as an intriguing battle at Metricon after Sunday’s effort.

“That was probably the best brand of footy I’ve seen us play since the club was formed, so that was really exciting,” McKenna said.