Luck can make or break a game of footy, but Nathan Buckley refused to attribute Collingwood’s last-ditch loss to Greater Western Sydney on Saturday night to that most unpredictable intruder.
Evergreen Steve Johnson’s crumbed goal was a shattering blow for a Magpies side that was not great, but certainly good enough to topple a Giants side two rotations down for most of the match after they lost Aidan Corr and Sam Reid to concussion early in each of the first two terms.
But it was the crucial moments leading up to that instant that the Magpies can reflect on and see they should have done that tiny bit better.
"We did a lot of hard work across the four quarters, and in particular in that last quarter, to be able to put ourselves in that position," Buckley said.
"We had chances and we should have iced it in the last five minutes, but we weren’t able to. Then there’s just little things, little blues that we made, that gave the opposition the opportunity to steal it basically in the end.
"That’s the way it goes. It was a flip of a coin in the last two or three minutes, whether we were going to be able to hold on, whether we would have the composure to possess the ball and shift it out of our back half and chew the clock up. But we just weren’t able to get a clear enough opportunity to do so.
"In the end, it’s not (GWS being) lucky - they forced it inside 50 four or five times in that last three minutes and eventually they scored."
Collingwood won the first term six goals to two and lost the second term by the same margin to hold a one-point advantage at half-time, 54-53. The rest of the match was tight and fluctuating and Collingwood seemed on track as the minutes counted down, only to be overrun with 30 seconds remaining.
"The game itself, we executed most of our plans," Buckley said.
"In any win you never get it perfect and in any loss you never get it all wrong. It’s somewhere in between. As it stands, GWS got a little bit more right than we did for the best part. That’s why they were able to get the result.
"The criticism can come. But I’m pretty the Collingwood supporters, when they see that sort of effort from their team, they’d be pretty proud."
Buckley revealed that the players discussed the legacy of Lou Richards before the game.
"The main message was the fact that some 50 years ago or more he sat in a room as a Collingwood footballer trying to make his name as a player before we knew him as anything else," he said.
"These young players have got that opportunity to do exactly the same for each other, themselves and for their club."