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Is Collingwood on the nose?

The unbearable stench of defeat? Nick Maxwell leads the Pies from the ground after the loss to Fremantle.

The unbearable stench of defeat? Nick Maxwell leads the Pies from the ground after the loss to Fremantle. Photo: Getty Images

Gone. Can't make top four. Going backwards. It's just on one-third of the way through the 2013 season, but not too early for plenty of definitive judgments to have been made, not just about those sides propping up the ladder, but in some cases those still in the top eight.

Ours is a game of increasingly hasty and sweeping statements, and it's Collingwood finding itself the subject of a few after its third loss of the season to Fremantle on Saturday night.

Consider for a moment, though, the following. If Carlton defeats St Kilda on Monday night, the Magpies will end round seven in ninth position, with a 4-3 win-loss record.

That's exactly the same situation as Hawthorn last year. Indeed, the Hawks, after being smashed by 10 goals against Richmond a fortnight after that, were 5-4. They'd finish 17-5, top of the ladder, and lose a grand final by 10 points.

That's not to argue that the Magpies are about to get on a similar roll and win 12 of their next 13, either. In fact, facing Geelong this week and Sydney the next, they could well slip to 4-5 after nine rounds.

But with 15 games to go, can a side as proven as the Pies, with their talent, experience and players such as Dayne Beams, Luke Ball, Alex Fasolo, Tyson Goldsack, Ben Johnson and Clinton Young not part of Saturday night's 22, really be dismissed as a flag chance?

The dim view of the Magpies' latest loss is that they were blown away at the start and overrun at the finish. The glass half-full version is they picked things up to the extent a 44-point deficit was reduced to five at the final change.

The round three loss to Hawthorn featured a poor second half but a first-half lead. In the Anzac Day loss to Essendon, Collingwood trailed by only two straight kicks seven minutes into the final term.

It's the patchiness of the Pies that has coach Nathan Buckley most concerned, the Freo loss a prime example. No side has scored fewer goals in first quarters than Collingwood, and the Pies have finished poorly, winning just two of seven final terms.

In contrast, they've won or broken even in four second terms, while their 35 goals in third quarters ranks No. 3. The proverbial nursery rhyme girl with the curl. Can it be straightened? Yes, though Collingwood's biggest opponent for the rest of 2013 may well be time.

Beams and Ball will obviously prove crucial additions to the mix, but can't be expected to return to their previous best without some serious game time under their belts. That's also an issue for the likes of skipper Nick Maxwell, Andrew Krakouer and Brent Macaffer. Alan Didak's potential input will be more a matter of hope than expectation, but his X-factor is still of value, as could be the long-kicking of Johnson and Young.

But the return of Beams and Ball in particular will significantly reduce the capacity of opponents to sit on the Pies' creative heartbeats, Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan.

The Magpies are having trouble adapting to the increasing penchant for counter-attack, Alan Toovey's loss for the year a significant blow. But there's still the option of shifting wingman Harry O'Brien back to his former home, while Dale Thomas has already played good football off half-back, as can Goldsack.

Sure, there's plenty of ifs and buts about the Pies, yet a simple glance at their draw beyond the next fortnight should underline the folly of preparing a premature obituary for their chances.

From round 10, Collingwood plays the Brisbane Lions, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Carlton, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney. If that run doesn't guarantee eight straight wins, you'd think the Pies are at least capable of going 6-2. Jag them all and, even with losses to the Cats and Swans, they'd be 12-5 with five games left to play.

That would be a pretty handy position heading into August. But wherever Collingwood is by then, it's certainly far too early to be calling ''game over'' in early May.

57 comments

  • I think Rohan is going Eddie's way of ignoring the reality.Magpies won their 2013 matches on 5min rush in some quarter. They have not consistently win all quarters of footy this season. Don't give false hopes to Magpies fan. Change the players attitude.

    Commenter
    2010 Magpie fan
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    May 13, 2013, 4:00AM
    • 2010 Magpie Fan, Geelong does the same thing, able to blast away the opposition in 5-10 minute bursts. You need to watch games other than Collingwood, mate.

      Commenter
      Tinfoil Pie
      Date and time
      May 13, 2013, 11:41AM
  • Well if Darren Jolly stops bagging former players and actually attempts something that might help him break even with that great ruckmen Zac Dawson, they might be a chance

    Commenter
    Gaz
    Location
    Yarrawonga
    Date and time
    May 13, 2013, 7:28AM
    • Jolly's article was actually a well written peek into the world of sledging, and, far from "bagging" former team mates, he was willing to admit that he gave it out and got it back. It's a shame that Josh Fraser couldn't move on and work with Jolly - and I wouldn't mind betting if you put it to a vote most fans would prefer Jolly in the centre bounce and not Fraser!

      At least Huddo was willing to forgive and forget what is just a part of AFL

      Commenter
      LP
      Date and time
      May 13, 2013, 3:40PM
  • Only playing a handful of games outside your home state is such a massive advantage for them over the course of the year - they still have a better chance than Fremantle to get to the last day of the season.

    Commenter
    mike
    Date and time
    May 13, 2013, 8:22AM
    • Hopefully the long flight back from Subiaco is too much for the filth, and the cats smash them Saturday night. Preferably, it'd be nice if the game was over by three quarter time to allow the riff raff to exit the stadium early, allowing us cats fans time to savour another win and a pleasant trip home.

      Commenter
      Sir Stewart Wallace
      Date and time
      May 13, 2013, 8:22AM
      • Who knighted you?

        Commenter
        DanB
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        May 13, 2013, 9:19AM
      • Oh the smugness of the Geelong fan!

        Commenter
        Catherine
        Date and time
        May 13, 2013, 9:26AM
      • Hopefully the train from the farms down Geelong will break down and when it's fixed it will just turn around and take you back home to milk the cows and clean up all their crap, just like your comment.

        Commenter
        Anti-homozygosity
        Date and time
        May 13, 2013, 9:35AM
      • You should see and hear the behaviour of some Geelong supporters!. Cant you comment on footy without demeaning words like filth and riff raff? I can think of some very rude words to call immoderate supporters like you but like many Collingwood supporters have too much class to use them.
        Wouldnt it be great to have 8 matches at your very own boutique ground Skilled Stadium where a win is almost guaranteed!

        Commenter
        helly
        Location
        nunawading
        Date and time
        May 13, 2013, 9:43AM

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