ALL SUMMER North Ballarat Roosters made it clear they were preparing for this match.
Selkirk Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald reminded them of this when, 14 points down at the final break, he looked each player in the eyes before sending them back into the battle.
Collingwood, at its spiritual home base Victoria Park, fended a determined Roosters off by 12 points by the final siren in this Victorian Football League season opener.
A win may have escaped the Roosters but FitzGerald said the match showed he wants his new-look team to play. It was exciting.
“I’m thrilled we got in front twice in the last quarter ... we showed enough resilience and spirit for the platform to being a good side,” FitzGerald said.
“We had built ourselves every chance to win round one and effort was there.
“You base what you’re trying to achieve on effort.”
There is still fine-tuning to do.
The Roosters need to be more efficient up forward and in moving the ball forward effectively without the expense of leaking goals in defence.
But the Roosters stuck with the Magpies.
The Magpies’ inaccurate goalkicking kept the Roosters in touch and 14 points down at half-time. It was a margin the Roosters struggled to break until 14 minutes into the final term.
When Collingwood pressed forward, the Roosters tightened their defence – including a terrific Eric Wallace monster tackle to change momentum in time-on.
Pies’ pocket rocket Lachie Ferguson pulled off an impressive three-man dodge in the pocket to give his team the late buffer it needed.
The Roosters created headaches for the Pies from the outset.
Luke Kiel played a lock-down defensive role on Magpies’ AFL rookie Kyle Martin, who failed to shake Kiel’s tag when he moved to the Pies’ backlines – this just allowed Kiel a chance to help his forwards.
James Keeble’s work on Alex Fasolo, causing the Pies to move Fasolo, and Mitch Wilkins’ one-on-one switch to Ben Kennedy after half-time were also effective. FitzGerald said this underpinned the team’s defensive concept.
Nick Couch, in his second game back from a knee reconstruction, found touch with two goals from 11 disposals. Couch also made six tackles.
Fellow midfielder Nick Peters, in his first official game back after a year’s hiatus, chalked up 28 possessions, six marks and five tackles.
The Roosters must wait a fortnight to continue their campaign with a rest for a split opening round to complete next week.
Players will stick to the routine match analysis this week, break or return to grassroots football this
weekend, then move back into their training regime.
Essendon at Windy Hill awaits.
VICTORIA Park is decorated with Collingwood history and glory.
The Roosters brought their own Magpie premiership player to the battle at Collingwood’s home base – Gavin Brown.
The champion wingman, now a North Melbourne assistant coach is the development coach with North Ballarat.
FitzGerald paid tribute to Brown’s playing career, and the magnificent facilities and surface of Victoria Park, in the post-match function.