AFL 2024 GWS Giants vs Collingwood Magpies, Opening Round, scores, updates, stats, video, how to watch, stream, blog


Following months of pre-season chatter and back-and-forth banter, the Giants and Magpies finally took to the field to let their football do the talking at ENGIE Stadium on Saturday, with GWS winning convincingly 18.6 (114) to 11.16 (82).

Extra anticipation for this clash was ignited after Collingwood’s Mason Cox dubbed GWS’ home venue a “showground for livestock” last November, with Giants CEO Dave Matthews returning fire with a “D-grade comedy at best” quip to further fuel a growing rivalry.

Adding to the side-show, the Giants had a Maxon Cox Petting Zoo outside the ground in a cheeky jab at the American.

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The Magpies unleashed key defender Charlie Dean for his AFL debut, more than two years after being taken as a rookie, with Billy Frampton, Jeremy Howe and Nathan Murphy all missing from Craig McRae’s defence.

Collingwood premiership stalwart Scott Pendlebury has overcome a knee concern to be named, joined by fringe players Ash Johnson and John Noble. Despite plenty of pre-season hype, Fin Macrae has not been named in Craig McRae’s 23.

GWS have debuted last year’s pick No.59 Harvey Thomas — a product of the Giants’ Academy who buzzed throughout the pre-season.

“Another success story from the GIANTS Academy, Harvey is an elite runner and showed he could play multiple roles this year, but we see him settling more ahead of the ball,” club recruiting boss Adrian Caruso said on the club’s website.

Harvey Thomas is congratulated after learning he’ll debut against the Pies. Photo: Phil Hillyard.
Harvey Thomas is congratulated after learning he’ll debut against the Pies. Photo: Phil Hillyard.Source: News Corp Australia

MATCH UPDATES

A booming snap from near 50 metres out by Brody Mihocek drew first blood for Collingwood.

“Mihocek always leads with purpose, he always leads to the ball-carrier,” said Seven’s Matthew Richardson in commentary, praising the unheralded Pie.

GWS forward Callum Brown answered not long after with a long-range strike of his own, before adding a second with a pinpoint set shot. Soon after, he added a third goal from as many kicks.

Darcy Cameron kicked Collingwood’s second as both sides chalked up the scores, with Bobby Hill later snapping a major against his former side.

A strong contested mark and set shot goal by Aaron Cadman extended the Giants’ slender advantage.

Things started spicing up in the rematch of last year’s preliminary final, as Mihocek found himself scuffling with a few Giants after a late hit on GWS defender Sam Taylor.

“There’s a lot of hate here, no doubt about that,” said Seven’s Brian Taylor at quarter-time.

Tom Green and Jesse Hogan saluted for GWS in the second term to extend its lead to 14 points halfway through the second quarter.

The Giants kicked a couple of late goals — one of them Callum Brown’s fourth (!) — to extend their quarter-time lead into the main break.

GWS veteran Callan Ward came from the ground in the second term with a suspected shoulder injury, with coach Adam Kingsley confirming the midfielder’s setback and adding he’s likely to spend time on the sidelines.

“AC joint popped out. He’s out of the game and probably will miss quite a few weeks,” Kingsley said at half-time.

It didn’t put much of a dent in the Giants’ cause, however, as a truly special effort from superstar captain Toby Greene set the home crowd alight and pushed their lead to 29 points halfway through the third term.

After managing just nine disposals, Pies midfielder Tom Mitchell was subbed out of the game, sending defender John Noble into the action in the later stages of the third quarter.

Four unanswered Giants goals gave Kingsley’s men a commanding 40-point lead at the final change, leaving it all for the Pies to do — which we’ve seen happen time and time again over the past couple of seasons.

Albeit a fifth Callum Brown goal and another Brent Daniels major brought the GWS lead to a game-high 52 points early in the final quarter, dealing a death blow to Collingwood’s comeback chances.

Daniels later kicked his fourth goal, equalling his career-best tally and putting a final nail in the Pies’ coffin.

On AFL Nation, Kane Cornes said GWS was “probably premiership favourites after tonight”, with favourable upcoming fixtures against North Melbourne and West Coast likely to culminate in a hot start to season 2024.

Relive GWS vs. Collingwood in our blog below!

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The 3-2-1 (what we learned) …

3. GIANTS STAMP FLAG CREDENTIALS WITH STATEMENT

Statement made.

The Giants have proven their flag credentials for 2024 by smashing the reigning premiers in an emphatic performance.

Indeed, GWS didn’t just win the game, it blew Collingwood apart, extracting some revenge for that heartbreaking preliminary final repeat in the process.

“It’s the way they’ve been able to dismantle the Pies that’s been pleasing. They’ve obviously come in with a plan,” Collingwood premiership player Dale Thomas said on Channel 7.

“From what we’ve seen tonight, this is certainly a side that is going to be contending.”

As disappointing as the Pies were, the Giants’ dominance was the bigger story.

Adam Kingsley’s troops were firing on all cylinders – in defence, midfield and forward – including a career-best five goals from Callum Brown, four from Jesse Hogan and Brent Daniels and Tom Green producing a massive night in the midfield.

Green looks set to go to another level in 2024, well and truly their leader on the ball now – finishing with 30 touches, 11 contested, nine clearances and seven tackles.

“Green’s just picked up where he left off last year,“ Collingwood great Nathan Buckley told Fox Footy.

“We saw the differences between his 2022 and 2023 seasons. He’s obviously gone again.

“The disposals are one thing – we know he uses it really well – but the score involvements are handy and to kick that goal outside 50 in the second quarter was the cherry on the top.

“His clearance work is generally strong.”

The sizzling orange tsunami was much back – all over the ground – and on show for the entire footy world on a round with added promotion in the northern states.

“We know the tsunami is always from the back half, but I’m seeing it at all sources – on the wing and through the middle of the ground,“ former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon told Fox Footy.

“They’re trying to generate that run and wave of numbers from all over the ground.”

2. PIES OFF AS ‘RED FLAG’ COSTLY

The reigning premiers were uncharacteristically off their game on Saturday night … in several areas.

It’s been rare to see the Magpies under Craig McRae look so out of sorts – and get beaten so badly. It was un-Collingwood like.

Not only was McRae’s side unable to defend the Giants’ overwhelming forward momentum, it couldn’t capitalise on its own opportunities when it attacked.

To that point, Collingwood clearly lacked a reliable marking target forward 50 – bizarrely winning the inside 50 count 60-53 but unable to score as efficiently as GWS.

The midfield battle was close enough to a dead rubber, but the Giants just felt more connected across the field in general.

Perhaps most significantly, the Pies’ usual stingy defence – which is technically all over the ground in the way their pressure typically chokes opposition sides – was rarely seen, at times playing overly aggressive.

“Collingwood is putting all its eggs in the frontal pressure basket. When the Giants get out of that first two or three handballs, Collingwood can’t stop them in the midfield and can’t defend D50 at the moment,” former Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told Fox Footy at half-time.

“Fifteen scores from 24 entries (to half-time) for the Giants is a real red flag from the Collingwood coaching staff and they’ll have to look if they’re going to balance their defence across the field a little bit more.

“Collingwood is so reliant on that forward half scoring. If they let GWS out, they’re not defending that well through the midfield.”

Former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon also observed the Magpies players were putting too much pressure on the ball, which meant, when the Giants got out, they consistently had numbers.

“They’ve tightened the bubble around the Giants players, but once they’re getting out, they can’t defend it,” he added.

1. GIANTS VETERAN GOES DOWN

The only downside for the Giants tonight was Callan Ward getting struck down with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury.

The Giants look set to be without one of their trusty veterans for an extended period after Ward landed awkwardly on his shoulder in a Beau McCreery tackle.

The incident happened in the second quarter, with McCreery dumped in a tackle and unable to protect his vulnerable shoulder as he came down and hit the ground hard.

It looked like an ACL joint injury as the 33-year old came from the ground with the joint appearing out of place before he was subbed out, then seen post-match in a sling.

It comes just four games away from Ward’s 300th game, so here’s hoping he doesn’t miss too much time to bring up the milestone soon.



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