COLLINGWOOD 4.3 7.5 10.10 16.14 (110)RICHMOND 1.4 2.7 3.10 10.12 (72)
Goals: Collingwood: D Beams 3 J White 3 S Pendlebury 3 D Swan 2 J Elliott 2 J Blair L Ball S Sidebottom. Richmond: S Lloyd 3 J Riewoldt 2 C Newman D Martin M Arnot M Thomas S Edwards.
BEST Collingwood: Pendlebury, Beams, Macaffer, White, Ball, Maxwell. Richmond: Lloyd, Astbury, Jackson, Houli.
Umpires: Troy Pannell, Robert Findlay, Craig Fleer.
Official Crowd: 62,100 at MCG.
This match was viewed as consequential, not so much for the winner, but for the loser. At 2-2 after four rounds, a team is respectable. At 1-3, you're in the bunker.
And when that loser is the Richmond Football Club - with the largest band of success-deprived supporters in the competition - that bunker should be underground and made of reinforced concrete, rather than sand. The talkback lines will be deluged with talk of Tiger failure, and the past greats who lambasted the paper Tigers this week will feel vindicated.
Collingwood's advantage over Richmond remains as it has been for several years. Contrary to what you will hear over the next few days, the difference between the sides wasn't about effort - though Collingwood retains warrior qualities that the Tigers haven't found for three decades. No, the major cause of the defeat was class.
It mattered not that Travis Cloke didn't kick a goal in his 200th game. It mattered not that the Tigers won the clearances.
It mattered not that the Tigers made a junk-time charge and drew within five goals - having trailed by eight goals at one point. The game, really, was done by early in the third quarter and probably much earlier.
Collingwood's major supremacy was in the capacity of its players - and particularly gun midfielders Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and Steele Sidebottom - to use the ball effectively, and to score themselves.
Pendlebury and Beams booted three goals each, while a partially revived Dane Swan - who improved, without fully regaining his powers of possession - added two. The Pies were comfortable victors, despite Cloke's ongoing lack of scoring, because their midfielders were so potent. Jesse White slotted three as Cloke's foil, showcasing his excellent mobility.
The most fateful contest was between Tiger skipper Trent Cotchin and his relentless tagger Brent Macaffer, who wore Cotchin like a wetsuit throughout the evening. Having entered the match without Brett Deledio, Richmond simply couldn't hope to win unless Cotchin maintained his high output. Macaffer's smothering, thus, was paramount. Macaffer, increasingly, is developing into a more muted version of Ryan Crowley.
Collingwood booted the opening four goals of the game and its quarter-time lead was - unusually for the 2014 Pies - built on efficiency. This pattern would continue for the next hour and a half. Often, Richmond sent the ball forward, only to allow the Pies to rebound in to space. Collingwood was far superior ''on the spread'' when running the ball from defence.
Collingwood's no-name defence - given the luxury of a loose man behind the ball - was utterly dominant and it perhaps is an emerging story. The Tigers did not mark the ball within cooee of goal. Tyrone Vickery, subbed out just after half-time to the cheers of the Tiger fans, barely touched it. Jack Frost did well to restrict Jack Riewoldt overall, with Riewoldt scoring only in the final quarter.
Collingwood's first four goals were created by cleaner use of the ball. Dynamic midfielders Pendlebury, Beams and Swan booted one goal each from skilful snaps. Swan, who started on the bench and went forward, appeared to be running more freely than he had hitherto this season. Pendlebury, matched to Matt Thomas, was highly productive in those early minutes and indeed for the entire first half.
Damien Hardwick, perhaps surprisingly, opted to deploy Thomas on Pendlebury, rather than his more seasoned tagger, Daniel Jackson; perhaps the Richmond coach felt that with Deledio missing and Cotchin subjected to the inevitable very hard tag, Jackson would be needed as a ball-winner.
But the major surprise was the impact made on the game by Collingwood's leviathan ruckman forward Jarrod Witts, who showed fine touch and mobility and was among the catalysts for Collingwood's ascendancy in the opening 10-15 minutes.
From that point, though, the Tigers squared up and even held an edge in general play for much of the next hour. The problem lay in an inability to convert - shots on goal were either botched, as Cotchin missed one you would expect him to make from 40 metres, or - more typically - the ball was butchered when one Tiger was seeking another.
The Tigers won the centre breaks decisively in the first half 8-3, were only marginally behind in forward entries (27-25 to the Pies) and contested ball (80-78), yet trailed by 28 points. Collingwood, in fact, often benefited from quick rebounds into a less congested forward.
The first game of mature-age recruit Sam Lloyd, with his three goals, was one of very few high points for the Tigers.
The worst moment for Richmond came just before half-time, when David Astbury out-manoeuvred Travis Cloke and marked, but his switch of play into the corridor was dropped by Dylan Grimes. Tyson Goldsack snatched the ball, gave it by hand to Jesse White, who made a regulation snap. In psychological terms, this was awful - the Tigers had been winning enough ball to be much closer. They just kept stuffing up.
It's a familiar plotline for the Richmond Football Club.