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Pies succumb to Bombers’ pressure

Collingwood’s inability to handle Essendon’s pressure was the reason for its Elimination Final defeat, according to coach Jared Rivers.

The Magpies were jumped from the start and were never able to fully wrest control of the match from the Bombers, going down 11.14 (80) to 18.6 (114).

Essendon’s pressure and defensive lapses from the Pies proved too much to overcome.

“We didn’t feel like we started that well. We coughed the ball up, we probably didn’t handle Essendon’s pressure right from the start and it just bled on like that all day really,” Rivers told Collingwood Media post-match.

“We felt like at times we got back into the game and then they just got too many easy goals.”

The loss brings Collingwood’s VFL season to a disappointing close.

After threatening the top-four for much of the season, the Pies fell just short of the double-chance and were thrust into a cut-throat elimination final.

While Rivers was left feeling unsatisfied by the lack of finals success, he said the continued development of the team’s young players is reason for optimism moving forward.

“We had a really good team, we really backed ourselves to have a real crack in September and we just fell short,” Rivers said.

“We’re disappointed, but credit to the players and the staff who have put in a lot throughout the year. To finish fifth was a really good effort.

“We feel like it’s a bit of a mixed year, to be honest.

“We’ve still got some young kids who are developing. We’ve got to get that balance right.”

One such player whose development was on show on Sunday was Callum Brown. He was the team’s most prolific ball-winner and was named Collingwood’s best player. He also added three first-half goals to help keep pace with the Bombers early.

Brown is one of nine players in Sunday’s team who have featured at AFL-level this season. These players, as well as the returning Tyson Goldsack, will continue to press their case for selection in the AFL finals campaign, which begins in Perth on Saturday night.

Callum Brown evades an Essendon tackler. Photo: Shane Barrie

Collingwood           2.4     5.5     9.10     11.14    (80)
Essendon                5.5   11.3    13.4      18.6    (114)

Goals – Collingwood: Brown 3, J. Smith 2, Gallucci 2, Lynch, Daicos, Hellier, Oxley
Essendon: Green 5, Merrett 4, Stewart 2, Sibbald 2, Laverde, Hind, Hocking, Younan, Harrison

Best – Collingwood: C. Brown, M. Smith, Woodward, J. Smith, Oxley, Jok
Essendon: Merrett, Draper, Mutch, Green, Ridley, McQueen