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Buckley: Talls key to final quarter revival

Ben Guthrie (AFL Media)  July 8, 2018 8:30 PM

RAW: Buckley reflects on gutsy win Hear from Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley after his side's win over Essendon in round 16, 2018.

Collingwood put the acid on its tall forwards and ruckman Brodie Grundy at half-time of Sunday's game against Essendon and how they responded was pivotal in turning the tide in the Magpies' 16-point victory, according to coach Nathan Buckley.

The Magpies were getting badly beaten in the air in the first half, with Cale Hooker and Michael Hurley dominant figures in Essendon's back half.

Essendon led contested marks 10-3 at half-time with Mason Cox, Brody Mihocek and Brodie Grundy unable to pluck marks or bring the ball to ground, which allowed the Bombers to attack from their defence.

But a half-time cook from the coach was enough to help shift the momentum of the game, with Collingwood eventually gaining a 15-14 advantage in contested marks by the end of the match.

The Magpies also moved Jordan De Goey to the forward line and reaped the benefits with the star midfielder/forward bagging all three of his goals after half-time.

Cox's ability to compete in the air and get a hand in on a footy that was destined to be a turnover led to a vital left-foot snap goal from De Goey that sealed the deal for the Magpies.

"We challenged our big boys on either side of the ball after half-time and I thought Coxy's, 'Checkers' (Mihocek) and Brodie Grundy's response was really strong," Buckley said.

"And I thought Jordy made a big impact in that too. Taking him out of the midfield and putting him forward to help out with that aerial contest was a significant shift in the game.

"That was a pretty important part of arresting the control of the air which ultimately helped us in the last quarter."

Milestone man delivers: Recap the five biggest talking points from our win over the Bombers.

With the game on the line in the final term, captain Scott Pendlebury also stepped up with 14 disposals (seven contested) and six clearances helping to guide the team to victory in Steele Sidebottom's 200th match.

"I can't understate the significance of Steele Sidebottom's milestone. (Former coaching mentor) Mick (Malthouse) always said don't count the games, make the games count," Buckley said.

"That was one that did stick with me but I don't know for whatever reason this one was really significant."


Although the club's seventh straight victory was not one of its most glamorous wins of the season, Buckley said it was as important as any it had this year with games against fellow finals combatants West Coast, North Melbourne and Richmond coming up.

VIDEO: Watch Nathan Buckley's full post-match press conference after a 16-point win.

"That was the type of day it was for us. It wasn't one that came easy, it was one that we needed to grind out. It was one that we needed to win in a different manner to some of our recent wins," Buckley said.

"It makes it more meritorious and enjoyable that we really needed to grind this one out against a clearly motivated opponent who were up and about and playing good footy."

Will Hoskin-Elliott suffered a badly bruised shin, just below his kneecap, when Mitch Brown cannoned into his right leg in the opening quarter.

Hoskin-Elliott was able to play the match out but was notably proppy and will be tested this week, while young defender Flynn Appleby is set to miss a month after tearing his hamstring in the final quarter.

"It was knee on knee at the front of his shin. It's just a really badly bruised leg. Obviously that will take some time to settle and we'll see how he goes over the next couple of days," Buckley said.

"It looked like a hammy (for Appleby). We'll get scans and gauge the significance of it but you'd think he'd miss a month of footy with that (injury)."

Importantly, Darcy Moore, Travis Varcoe and Josh Smith – who are all on the comeback trail from hamstring injuries – got through unscathed in their VFL returns, although Buckley refused to pinpoint when the trio would again be available for AFL selection.