Tough talk: Nathan Buckley with Jarrod Witts during Saturday's game. Photo: Pat Scala
Hawthorn's stranglehold over Collingwood continues, the Hawks recording their 11th win from the two clubs' last 14 meetings at the MCG on Saturday, at the same time putting a serious dent in the Magpies' top four aspirations.
The Magpies led just once all afternoon, for several minutes midway through the first quarter, before the status quo was restored, Hawthorn's ultimate winning margin of 29 points and its final scoreline of 17.13 (115) actually lower than in any of its other five straight wins over the Pies since the 2011 preliminary final.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley is yet to taste victory over the Hawks as a senior coach, and his normally calm matchday demeanour evaporated when he left the coach's box to confront young ruckman Jarrod Witts late in the third quarter, grabbing the ruckman by the jumper and pointing his finger at him aggressively.
"I've got great belief in what he's going to be capable of achieving and I don't think he shares that belief at the moment," Buckley explained after the game. "It was designed as a prickle, it was designed to really challenge him and wake him up in some ways. We're getting about 85 per cent of what he's capable of right now and there's gold in that last 15 per cent.
"His last quarter was good. He kicked a couple of goals and took a contested mark in the goalsquare, but we want our big fellas to play like big fellas. We want them to play big and tall and tough and have blokes stand up taller around them. And I didn't think Wittsy was doing that for most of the game and definitely in that five or 10-minute period leading up to three-quarter time."
Buckley lamented the late lapse in the third term when a defecit of only nine points became 27 within three minutes, Collingwood unable to creep much closer for the rest of the game.
"We can't afford to give up two or three goals in three minutes, you can't afford to do that against a quality side," he said. "We'd worked so hard as a side to be in the game and we need every individual to understand ... those moments in games that you need to seize. And Hawthorn were that side today that seized those moments and we let them go."
Stand-in Hawthorn coach Brendon Bolton hailed the performance of veteran midfielder Brad Sewell, best afield with 26 disposals, seven inside 50s, a goal and some important score assists. The 30-year-old was playing just his fifth game of the season, but for a second week in a row produced the goods.
"This is a brutal, tough competition and he was a little bit slow to get going, but we always knew he would," Bolton said of Sewell's 2014. "Challenge isn't unusual in any organisation, but he's proud and determined and I think it's more from within than external. The intrinsic motivation is more of a driver for professional players who have been around a long time versus extrinsic or a challenge from outside."
Bolton conceded the importance of the victory, with the Hawks still to play another six of the current top eight in their remaining nine games.
"I think we've got a group that is resilient," he said. "Collingwood came at us and we knew they would. When we started to use the ball a lot more deep inside 50 where we could get a crumbing ball and get Cyril [Rioli] and [Luke] Breust onto it we can control the ground then because we can squeeze it and hold it in our forward line.
"I thought we responded really well to their challenge and it was probably because we were just a bit smarter with our ball use."
Bolton said he expected injured midfielder Sam Mitchell to return in the next couple of weeks. The key Hawk hasn't played since tearing his hamstring against St Kilda in round seven.