Fremantle 3.3  7.3  11.5  15.7 (97)
Collingwood 7.3  10.9  17.10  20.13 (133)

Fremantle: Crowley 2, Hasleby 2, Pavlich 2, Sandilands 2, Ballantyne 2, Hill 2, De Boer, Ibbotson, Silvagni
Collingwood: Cloke 5, Didak 3, Wood 2, Anthony, Ball, Beams, Davis, Johnson, Macaffer, O’Bree, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Swan

Sandilands, Pavlich, Crowley, Barlow, Duffield, Broughton
Collingwood: Cloke, Swan, Pendlebury, Didak, Johnson, Ball, Beams

McPharlin (knee), Mundy (knee)
Collingwood: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Rosebury, Stevic
Official crowd: 41,624 at Subiaco Oval

COLLINGWOOD has underlined its growing premiership credentials with a clinical 36-point win over Fremantle at Subiaco Oval on Friday night.

The contest between the top two teams was billed as the match of the round, but the Pies split the game wide open after half time, kicking 10 of the last 15 goals to win their fifth consecutive game convincingly and remain top of the table.

Travis Cloke, who booted five goals from six shots, epitomised the Pies’ deadly accuracy and was a key figure in the 20.13 (133) to 15.7 (97) win.

It was at the stoppages, however, where the Pies held their clearest advantage, with Dane Swan (31 possessions and seven clearances), Scott Pendlebury (27 and seven), Shane O’Bree (25) and Dayne Beams (23) all influential. Luke Ball had 22 possessions and six inside 50s in his 150th game.

Coach Mick Malthouse refused to be drawn on Collingwood’s near faultless 7-1 start to the season, but said his current group was in the best position it had been to mount a premiership challenge.

“We are better placed because we are a better side,” he said after the game. “The win-loss ratio is good, but it’s not significant. A win’s a win and is terrific, but we have to keep moving forward.

“We’ve done the early yards now to put ourselves in a good position to finish inside the eight, there’s still four or five games technically to get there but we’re on the right path.”

Ruckman Aaron Sandilands (43 hit-outs and 25 possessions) was Fremantle’s best and he won his position convincingly against Darren Jolly.

However, his ground level players couldn’t capitalise – even when captain Matthew Pavlich inserted himself into the centre – losing the clearances 45-35.

Coach Mark Harvey said a combination of Collingwood’s relentless pressure (they won the tackle count 91-67) and Fremantle’s fumbling hands cost his side at the stoppages.

“They were quick to hit you with the counterpunch and they spread really quickly,” he said. “That was reflected with some easy goals that they got.

“Whenever we looked like getting into the game they just got that goal or [used] the swift ball movement that can really hurt you.

“You’re an injury or two away from just being brought back to earth quickly and we were tonight.”

It was the biggest match staged at Subiaco Oval in years, and Fremantle’s largest non-derby crowd turned out hoping to see its side claim top spot on the AFL ladder for the first time in its 16-season history.

But the contest threatened to fizzle out in the first quarter, with Collingwood kicking five consecutive goals in a 13-minute run to open up a 31-point lead late in the term.

Ryan Crowley, a player used to locking down an opponent, found himself running free in the second term and driving Fremantle back into the game.

The home side entered the main break just 10 points down as Crowley had 11 possessions, five inside 50s and two goals for the quarter, although Luke McPharlin (knee) would not return and David Mundy (knee) was hampered.

Harvey said it appeared McPharlin had sustained a medial ligament injury, although the grade was not known, but he was hopeful Mundy’s was not serious.

The Pies’ depth and harder bodies told in the second half, and with 13 separate goal-kickers, the visitors gave Fremantle’s early-season fairytale a reality check.

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