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Talking Points: Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

Nat Edwards (AFL Media)   March 25, 2017 1:22 AM

Post Match: Beveridge Press Conference (Rd1) Watch Senior Coach Luke Beveridge speak to the media after Friday night's round one win over Collingwood.
AFL 2017 Round 01 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs snaps a goal during the 2017 AFL round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

1. Dogs find the answers
In the lead up to round one, the question of a premiership hangover was raised with Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge at his weekly press conference. The premiership mentor admitted he wasn't sure how his side would go. The Bulldogs were certainly challenged by Collingwood on Friday night, and while it wasn't a convincing performance by the premiers, they had the answers when the game was in the balance. There is, of course, much room for improvement; after all, it's only round one. The Dogs were smashed at the stoppages and had 18 fewer inside 50s than the Pies, but still managed to make the most of their opportunities. For Nathan Buckley, his side may not have won the four points, but the Pies were certainly competitive and their midfield is one to fear. They will be ruing their missed opportunities but there was plenty to like from Collingwood.

2. Cloke's fresh start
For Travis Cloke it must have been a strange feeling running out against his former side for the first time. It didn't take him long to find his feet though. The Bulldogs recruit had his first touch five minutes into the match, and as expected there were plenty of boos from the black and white faithful. Those initial jeers though were nothing compared to the chorus of boos that came at the 26-minute mark of the first term, when Cloke took his first mark on the paint of 50. Holding his nerve, the ex-Pie kicked truly and Bulldogs fans erupted , drowning out the Collingwood army. It was a moment Cloke will long remember as his new teammates ran from everywhere to celebrate with him. From there though, Cloke was pretty well held by his former teammate Ben Reid, the ex-Pie finishing with 14 disposals, six marks and a goal.

3. Mayne's late call-up
It was a shaky start to life as a Magpie for ex-Docker Chris Mayne. Originally left out of the round one team, Mayne was handed a debut after James Aish pulled out with illness. There has been plenty of talk about the 28-year-old since he moved across to Collingwood in October last year on a lucrative four-year deal, and the pressure showed on Friday night. Mayne needed four attempts before he finally booted his first goal of the game and it was a cracking kick from 50m out right on the boundary line. Ex-Giant Will Hoskin-Elliott and former Gold Coast defender Henry Schade also made their official debuts for the Pies on Friday night. Hoskin-Elliott was impressive with 22 touches, six inside 50s and a goal, while Schade did well in defence, spending time on Cloke and Stewart Crameri throughout the game.

4. Bob's back
It didn't take Bulldogs skipper Bob Murphy long to find the footy in his first game for premiership points in nearly a year. The veteran Dog looked more than comfortable during the JLT Series, but it was a special moment when he had his first touch of the 2017 home and away season. Ninety seconds into the game Murphy gathered his first possession much to the delight of the Doggies faithful, who burst into cheers. It was the skipper though, when the game was in the balance in the third term, who stood tall and lifted his side. Playing up forward and in defence at times, Murphy lit up at the 'G as the Dogs pushed out to a 25-point lead at three-quarter time. He had the chance to kick a goal too, which would have brought the house down, but true to his selfless nature Murphy handballed off to teammate Stewart Crameri. The former Bomber, who sat out 2016, kicked his first goal since the Bulldogs' 2015 elimination final loss to Adelaide.

5. Nervous wait for Varcoe
Magpie Travis Varcoe will have to wait until Monday afternoon to find out his fate after the ex-Cat was reported for a high bump on Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus. The incident happened halfway through the opening term at a centre bounce when Varcoe charged off the back of the square. The Magpie's shoulder made contact with Dahlhaus' head and the premiership Dog hit the deck. It will likely be graded medium impact and high contact, but the incident occurred off the ball and could have caused serious injury. Luckily, Dahlhaus didn't require medical treatment and was able to play out the game.