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Pies fall from top four

COLLINGWOOD has been sent tumbling out of the top four after a Nic Naitanui-inspired West Coast cruised to a 49-point victory in Saturday night's blockbuster at Patersons Stadium.

Naitanui was brilliant in the air and at ground level in the 15.17 (107) to 8.10 (58) triumph, and would have had an even greater impact had he managed to kick straight.

The 22-year-old finished with 17 possessions, 31 hit-outs and 1.3 as the Eagles (15-6) leapfrogged Collingwood (15-6) into fourth spot by virtue of their superior percentage.

It was a superb team effort by the Eagles, who had 14 individual goal-kickers, while Daniel Kerr was outstanding in the middle with 36 possessions.

Collingwood's seven-game winning run against the Eagles and its 10-game unbeaten streak outside of Victoria were broken with the loss.

While the Pies drop to fifth spot on the table, they will still finish in the top four if they beat Essendon next week and West Coast loses to ladder-leaders Hawthorn.

However, the form of Chris Dawes and Travis Cloke remains a major concern, with the pair held goalless in a horror night.

Collingwood's midfield was well beaten in the absence of No.1 ruckman Darren Jolly.

West Coast won the hit-outs 60-12 and the clearances 48-23, with midfielders Kerr (36 possessions, 12 clearances), Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey enjoying a feast at ground level.

Eagles coach John Worsfold was quick to praise the work of his midfield after the match.
"We obviously had a ruck advantage but our mids were on the top of their game," he said.

"Our ruckmen have been pretty dominant in other games and we haven't been as dominant in terms of clearances. It was a credit to the boys, they've been working at all the areas."

Collingwood led by 14 points when Scott Pendlebury kicked truly at the 25-minute mark of the opening term.

But the Magpies had to wait until 26 minutes into the third quarter before kicking their next goal, with West Coast booting nine unanswered goals in between to open up a match-winning 45-point lead.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said his side's workrate dropped alarmingly after quarter-time.
"We thought our structure was pretty solid in the first quarter. If you can play a game style and execute a game style for one quarter, you'd expect that you should be able to do it for four," he said.
"We didn't roll our sleeves up and dig in. We lost contested ball by 33. You're not going to win any games when you lose contested ball by that much."

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy, playing his first AFL match since injuring his ankle in round five, improved as the game wore on but finished with only one goal.

"It's great to be out here. I was a bit rusty early but it's great to get the win," Kennedy said.

"I blew the cobwebs out and worked into the game."

Collingwood utility Sharrod Wellingham injured a finger in his left hand early but battled on, while luckless West Coast midfielder Matt Rosa could be sidelined for the finals with a broken collarbone.

Saturday's contest was Rosa's first match back after a three-week absence with a broken jaw, while the 25-year-old missed last year's finals series with a knee injury.

Star Collingwood midfielder Dane Swan tallied 26 possessions in his first match back from his club-imposed suspension, while Pendlebury, Dayne Beams and forward Alex Fasolo (three goals) all performed admirably.

WEST COAST         2.4    6.8    11.12    15.17 (107)
COLLINGWOOD     4.4    4.9     6.9       8.10 (58)

West Coast: Shuey 2, Kerr, Naitanui, Hurn, Butler, A.Selwood, Kennedy, Darling, Masten, Hill, Cox, Embley, Gaff, Schofield
Collingwood: Fasolo 3, Goldsack, Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Beams, Blair

West Coast: Naitanui, Kerr, Shuey, Priddis, Butler, Gaff, Glass
Collingwood: Toovey, Pendlebury, Fasolo, Swan, Beams
West Coast: Cox (eye), Rosa (shoulder)
Collingwood: Wellingham (hand)

West Coast: Eric Mackenzie replaced by Andrew Strijk in the third quarter
Collingwood: Paul Seedsman replaced by Ben Sinclair in the third quarter
Reports: Nil
Official crowd: 40,527 at Patersons Stadium

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the club.