Injury-plagued Daniel Wells made an encouraging return for North Melbourne, but it was Collingwood and their growing band of key forwards who took the honours in an AFL pre-season cup match played in torrid conditions in southern NSW.
The Magpies led for all but a brief period of the second quarter on their way to recording a 12.13 (85) to 1.10.8 (77) win on Saturday at a boiling Robertson Oval in Wagga Wagga.
The temperature climbed close to 40 degrees, with quarters cut to 22 minutes and extended eight-minute breaks taken at quarter-time and three-quarter time.
Playing his first game in 328 days after suffering an achilles injury in round two last season, classy midfielder Wells notched 17 disposals and six marks.
“He’s in pretty good shape and pretty well prepared,” Kangaroos coach Brad Scott said.
“We hope he can improve. Whenever he’s prepared well in the pre-season, he’s generally had a good season.”
Pies coach Nathan Buckley was given further food for thought over his forward options and support for established spearhead Travis Cloke, who went goalless.
His 23-year-old forwards Alex Fasolo and Corey Gault again looked lively, as they did in their club’s 21-goal assault last week on Geelong.
They contributed eight goals between them in last week’s win over the Cats and combined for five majors and 14 marks on Saturday.
Gault, who has played just four senior games, followed up his three-goal haul from last week with three more majors either side of halftime.
Fasolo, with five goals playing the Cats, kicked two against the Kangaroos.
Taylor Adams and former Kangaroo Levi Greenwood tallied 26 and 25 possessions respectively and Travis Varcoe was another strong Collingwood performer.
Adams supplemented his ball getting with two goals and had had a very strong pre-season, according to Buckley.
“He’s a leader of the team and I don’t think he knows the difference between a NAB Cup game and a home-and-away game,” Buckley said.
“He just goes flat out all the time, which is why he’s so well respected by his teammates.”
For the Kangaroos, veteran key forward Drew Petrie bagged three goals, all in the second quarter, Sam Gibson and Nick Dal Santo accumulated 20 touches and Andrew Swallow and Todd Goldstein were other good performers.
Two Gault goals early in the third term put the Pies’ lead out to 19, one short of their biggest advantage in the first quarter.
The Kangaroos crept to within six in the same term after Aaron Mullett kicked the only Super goal of the game, but that was as close as they could get in the second half.
The Pies stayed ahead in the final term to inflict North’s first defeat of the pre-season.