Collingwood advanced to the AFL pre-season cup final after emerging as 24-point winners over West Coast in a bruising battle at Subiaco on Saturday night.
The reigning premiers will take on Essendon on Friday night after the 1.9.17 (80) to 0.8.8 (56) win over the Eagles.
But there were shoulder injuries to highly-touted West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui and his key defender teammate Mitch Brown plus Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell and young Pie Tom Hunter.
Naitanui was subbed off in the second quarter while Brown dislocated his shoulder in the third quarter in an innocuous looking spoiling attempt.
Maxwell’s injury came courtesy of a hip and shoulder from West Coast veteran Andrew Embley and Hunter preceded them all in the first quarter.
Both Collingwood players went to hospital for scans.
The Eagles were just about at full strength apart from missing midfielder Daniel Kerr, but their skills once again resembled the wooden spoon team of last year.
Collingwood took full control without the services of Alan Didak, Heath Shaw, Leigh Brown, Tyson Goldsack, Brent Macaffer, Nathan Brown and Luke Ball from last year’s premiership side.
Scott Pendlebury was superb for the Pies with 34 possessions and Chris Dawes and Travis Cloke kicked two goals each.
Dean Cox was again a standout in the ruck for the Eagles while Mark LeCras kicked three goals and Matt Priddis picked up 30 possessions.
West Coast started well with goals to Naitanui and LeCras, but a nine-point goal to Wellingham for Collingwood and then a goal on the siren to Cloke put the Magpies ahead by six points at quarter-time.
The ‘Pies took full control from there, leading by as much as 20 before dropping back to 15-point margin by the main break.
Collingwood couldn’t shake off the Eagles in the third quarter and LeCras’ third goal to start the last gave the Eagles a sniff, but they again suffered from a poor turnover from Quinten Lynch across half back.
Cloke goaled as a result and the Magpies ran out 24-point winners.
Mark Neeld was the latest Collingwood assistant coach to take over the helm for the night, with Mick Malthouse to reclaim the chair next week, and he was happy with the workout.
“The Eagles were terrific. Their contested possession was up and they managed to put us under a fair bit of pressure, which is great, and that’s the preparation you want going into the home and away season that is only a couple of weeks away,” Neeld said.
“It tested our structures well and the game was full of ebbs and flows. They got hold of us at times but we are really pleased that in the end our structures stood firm in that last quarter and a couple of boys put their head over it well.”
While West Coast coach John Worsfold saw some encouraging signs against the reigning premiers, and Nic Naitanui and Mitch Brown suffered partial shoulder dislocations, he was most disappointed in the poor turnovers.
“Overall the intensity and the effort was about where we want it, but we saw the gap between the two sides when Collingwood capitalised on our unforced errors,” Worsfold said.
“From our view, that was the difference in the game just with the mistakes that we made in bad areas of the ground under no pressure. That really hurt us.”