Buckley defends Pies as Geelong withstand late surge in ugly contest
Collingwood have fallen narrowly short against Geelong, despite a goalless first half and an injury to star ruck Brodie Grundy.
Both sides had the same amount of scoring shots in a windy day at the MCG, but the classier – slightly more accurate – Cats escaped with an 8.13 (61) to 6.15 (51) win over the spirited Pies.
The Magpies found their best footy late, playing with urgency and desperation, but the premiership-contending visitors proved that bit too slick, led by captain Joel Selwood and veteran forward Tom Hawkins (three goals).
While the Pies slumped to a dismal 2-9 with the loss, the Cats turn into the halfway point of the season at 8-3, with arguably more improvement left in them.
Mark Blicavs (calf complaint) and in-form midfielder Cam Guthrie were both late outs and will be welcome inclusions to the side when fully fit, while the Cats also have stars Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan, small forward Gryan Miers and role player Mark O’Connor sitting on the sidelines.
“[Reflecting on 8-3] you always want more,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.
“We look back at a couple of games and think we played well enough to win them but 8-3 gives you a chance. But the moment you look back on that and think we’re in pretty good shape and we’d take that at the halfway mark of the season, you look forward and see some pretty formidable opposition in the future.
“It’s a combination of being proud of our players to get to this point again but not getting ahead of ourselves.”
The Cats led by 12 points at the first change and 31 points at half-time – 5.8 (38) to 0.7 (7) – with the Pies goalless through the first two terms. Of seven behinds, five of the Magpies’ first-half behinds were rushed, mostly from set shots taken beyond range. Geelong, meanwhile, proved much more effective going forward, punishing Collingwood on turnover.
The Pies wrested momentum in the third quarter, led by Jordan De Goey who was injected into the midfield, but inaccuracy continued to cruel the Pies who could only cut the margin back to 24 by the final break.
Grundy, who kicked the Pies’ first goal of the match early in the third term, left the ground with a sore neck and was later taken to Epworth Hospital for precautionary scans, forcing the home side to sub Finlay Macrae into the match and send Darcy Cameron into the ruck for the remainder of the game.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said post-match that Grundy had pinched a nerve in his neck and had pain running down his right arm.
Despite the Pies finding five goals in the final term, the Cats were able to respond three of their own, with Hawkins standing up when his side needed it. Selwood finished with 26 disposals, six clearances and 11 contested possessions to share best-afield honours with his teammate at full-forward, while Brandon Parfitt was also busy with 30 disposals.
Chris Mayne was again in the Magpies’ best with 21 kicks – all effective – and 11 handballs. De Goey kicked two goals, both in the final term, and finished with 26 disposals and four clearances, while Isaac Quaynor also gave the Magpies a spark off halfback with 27 disposals.
Despite slumping to the worst start in his 10 seasons as coach, Buckley was half-glass full with his side’s efforts.
“You look at it and you go, ‘0.7 at half-time,’ and you think, ‘We’re not playing that bad, we were in the game,’” Buckley said.
“We were 16 inside-50s to 14 with eight minutes to go in the second quarter, we had more opportunity to score than the opposition and we hadn’t got a goal on the board and they had three or four.
“There are some elements we need to work on but we’re getting games [into players].
“Over the last three or four weeks I think we’re tracking in the right direction. We’re playing some pretty good sides and we’ve been very competitive. If we keep focusing on working together and finding our best, the wins will come.”
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