A sickening facial injury to Geelong youngster George Burbury marred a thrilling first-up NAB Challenge victory for the Cats over Collingwood at Simonds Stadium last night.
Forward Tom Hawkins showed he was over the back injury which ruined his 2013 season with four goals in the two-point win, 0.16.8 (104) to 1.13.15 (102).
But it was the injury to Burbury which grabbed the spotlight. He showed enormous courage to dive for a mark as Nick Maxwell arrived and the former Collingwood captain's knee crashed into his face.
Burbury screamed in agony and grabbed his face before being helped from the field with blood streaming from his mouth.
Officials combed the 50m arc searching for teeth during the half-time break, and he left Simonds Stadium in an ambulance with a broken jaw.
"He was looking really good," Geelong coach Chris Scott said.
"I'm very confident he'll still play the same way and add something to our team."
Hawkins stood out as the club's good news story, and Corey Enright and Mathew Stokes were superb in the midfield.
Hawkins struggled to even bend over last year as a debilitating back injury reduced him to a shadow of the man who won Geelong's best and fairest in 2012.
His four goals last night showed he is pain free and ready to have a big 2014.
Five goals from Collingwood recruit Jesse White appeared set to lift the new-look Magpies to victory, and his efforts impressed coach Nathan Buckley.
Collingwood offloaded a large group of senior players at the end of last year to move in a new direction.
Heritier Lumumba, Taylor Adams, Ben Kennedy and Jamie Elliott were thrown into the centre square and Dayne Beams had 35 possessions.
"It's good for everyone to get started," Buckley said.
"You reach a certain point where you're ready to go to the next level and we've probably been there for a week and a half. Geelong put in a really solid side and I thought our performance was admirable."