Gut feeling: The Magpies’ Jamie Elliott lays a desperate tackle on Fremantle’s Matt de Boer at the MCG yesterday.COLLINGWOOD may have strengthened its grip on top of the ladder, but Magpies coach Nathan Buckley feels his side is still far from dominating the competition.
The Pies conquered a determined Fremantle by 29 points at the MCG, securing its 10th straight win for the season. But Buckley knew the result could have been much sweeter.
Collingwood’s forwards had plenty of chances to widen the margin, with the Pies posting a season-high of 69 inside 50s – 36 more than the Dockers – and had 32 scoring opportunities, 17 of which resulted in points.
”We didn’t score at the percentage we would have liked and didn’t kick goals at the percentage we would have liked for our shots on, so there [needs to be] improvement,” Buckley said. ”And we leaked a little bit in the last quarter, giving them six goals from eight entries. There’s plenty to work on and plenty to improve.”
Still, the Pies were quick to heap pressure on the Dockers, keeping the visitors goalless until 18 minutes into the second quarter.
But Fremantle refused to give in, slashing its six-goal deficit early in the second quarter to as low as 17 points in the third term.
”We rate Fremantle, we rate their ability to close the game down and it [the game] was probably a bit stop-start … there were a lot of clinchers out there, a lot of packs, and the tackle count indicates that,” Buckley said.
But although he said his side still had plenty of inroads to make, Buckley said the Pies had got the basics right and were close to full strength after struggling with injuries at the start of the season.
”We could spend our whole review and post-match looking for things we didn’t do, and there are still plenty of areas we want to improve, but fundamentally we are doing a lot right. It’s a tough competition to back up week in, week out and to find the necessary effort, endeavour, intensity, to be able to meet and surpass the opposition’s effort and endeavour and intensity, and then obviously play the game on your terms as well. We have been able to do that more often than not, so there’s credit that’s needed to be given for that. But clearly we want to be better every time.”
The Pies are desperate to make amends for their round-three 10-goal loss to Carlton when they face the Blues again this Friday night.
Magpies midfielder Dale Thomas said that defeat, one of just two this season, had been a key part in setting up the 10-game winning streak.
”I think after every loss you go away and take in what you need to improve, and I think as a group it was an opportunity for us to do that,” he said. ”The start of the year was a little bit off and we have managed to go away and refine in the small parts what we have been doing and try to get that consistent effort from the 22 blokes who represent the team each week. I don’t know if you can say that game was defining as such but it probably opened our eyes to more of our deficiencies.
”Every week we are trying to improve and I think for the most part we have done that.”
Dockers coach Ross Lyon appeared more like the winning coach after the match, beaming at his side’s resolve.
”I’m really confident that we are a team that turns up and gives effort almost regardless,” he said. ”It’s a nice feeling as a coach.
”You see it in the chase-downs, you see it when they get five or six goals up and we pull it back to 17 points.
”But we can’t be complacent with that. Every player has got to keep driving that sort of effort. We are not saying its an acceptable performance, but certainly, on an effort front, [it was good]. We just weren’t quite good enough today.”
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