The AFL finals may be out of reach for Collingwood, but coach Nathan Buckley will insist his side keeps the pressure on themselves by treating next week’s clash with Richmond like a September assignment.
An 11-point loss to Sydney at the SCG on Friday effectively ended the Pies finals aspirations, leaving them still six points off eighth with three rounds to go and having played a game more than the teams immediately above them.
It was the seventh defeat in the past eight games for a club that, prior to that slump, was well placed at 8-3 halfway through their campaign.
Buckley scotched any suggestion the Magpies would go through the motions over their last three games at the MCG against Richmond, Geelong and Essendon.
“We want to put pressure on ourselves and we want to be challenged by games that have got high pressure in them,” Buckley said.
“We’ll end up playing top-eight sides in the next couple of weeks and we’ll go into next week treating it like it’s a game that we desperately want to win.
“We’ll prepare like it’s a final and we’ll play like it’s a final.”
The SCG clash provided a microcosm of the Magpies season, another tough competitive performance resulting in yet another tight loss to a top-eight side.
The Swans kicked four goals from centre bounces and Buckley was frustrated they could post quick scores while his team at times seemed to labour for every major.
“Often it would be in reply to one of our scores that we fought hard for five, six seven, ten minutes to go and score a goal and then give an easy one up like that,” Buckley said.
“At some stage we’ll learn the lesson.
“We’ve been a little slower than I would have liked, and it’s not a great feeling when you perform OK, but you fall short.
“It’s not acceptable. It’s not going to get us where we want to get to, so we need to do better.”
Buckley was left to lament a lack of goalkicking accuracy as the Pies finished behind on the scoreboard despite having four more scores.
“It’s something that has cost us on a couple of occasions,” Buckley said.
“It probably cost us the Hawthorn game and it’s probably cost us this game.
“We kicked 3.5 from 15 to 30 metres out from set shots and that’s bad footy.”
He said it was lots of little things that were preventing the Pies from claiming the scalps of the top sides.
“It’s quite a simple game, but it’s done under fierce pressure and it’s done against the teams that are trying to prevent you from doing the basics well,” Buckley said.
“So we’ve still got to get better at that.”