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Cloke fires in Collingwood match

By Kim Hagdorn
8 February 2013 01:59PM EST

A FOUR-GOAL third term earned powerhouse forward Travis Cloke an early exit from Collingwood's in-house practice match.

The imposing scoring force was sent for an early shower after Cloke stood out among a host of encouraging outcomes in Collingwood's full-scale scratch match at traditional home Victoria Park on Friday.

Cloke, 25, booted five goals before he was rewarded with his early finish.

Star on-ball play-makers Scott Pendlebury, Dane Swan and Dayne Beams also turned in slick four-term outings as well as veteran running-back Ben Johnson and livewire forward Andrew Krakouer.

Experienced on-baller Alan Didak also earned an early exit order after the classy left-footer turned in a superb first half.

It was the Pies final scratch-match workout ahead of what will be a highly anticipated NAB Cup launch next Friday night at Etihad Stadium in lightning carnival clashes with embattled Essendon and Western Bulldogs.

And indications were in full swing that the Nathan Buckley-coached Pies will play a distinctly attacking style in this year's premiership campaign.

Defensive and midfield ball-movement was decidely through the mid-field corridor with aggressive switch-kicking to break lines and head goalward with Cloke a prime marking target.

Significantly, the imposing big forward worked in helthy unison with ace recruit Quinten Lynch, who confirmed his capacity to play as an alternative marking and scoring avenue alongside Cloke as well as more than competent share of ruck duties.

Premier ruck enforcer Darren Jolly sat out the clash, but Lynch took his share of ruck and on-ball duties as shock mature-age recruit Ben Hudson and rising young hopeful Jarrod Witts went head-to-head.

Witts, 20, looms as the Pies likely number two ruck starter after his impressive transition last year at VFL level following recruitment as a New South Wales scholarship development player.

Importantly, the impressive intra-club clash wrapped up without any apparent injury to any Magpie.

Experienced Hawthorn import Clinton Young started slowly but was more dominant late into the clash from his wing.

Adding versatility to normally dashing defender Harry O'Brien could be on the cards after the premiership half-back played off a wing and had occasional turns starting in the centre-square at ball-ups.

Stoppage and clearances expert Luke Ball sat out the clash, along with other noticeable absentees Tyson Goldsack and dashing utility Alan Toovey.

Dynamic on-baller Dale Thomas appears still a long way from a playing return as he hobbled around the Pies spiritual home wearing protective wrapping around his right ankle.

Thomas, 25, looks certain to miss the start of the premiership season when the Pies kick off in clashes with North Melbourne and power clubs Carlton and Hawthorn across the first three weeks.

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