11 October, 2023
Not many AFL fans gave Collingwood a chance at the beginning of the season and rightly so after a lacklustre 2021, finishing second last – the Magpies looked spent.
Now look at them go.
A new coach and a father-son pick later, saw 2022 commence with a topsy turvy run through the first 12 games. Starting 5 wins 7 losses they were pretty much where everyone expected them. In the middle of a rebuild and showing signs of improvement, but no real danger to the competition.
The Pies then began an unforeseeable run defeating the Blues and Hawks, before then toppling the reigning premiers. Kicking off an 11 game winning streak to finish the season with a blaze of glory, breaking red, black and blue hearts as they marched to a crucial 4th spot finish.
A truly amazing turnaround from a club who looked to be up against it, despite plenty of upside – but is the Pies run a fairy-tale in the making or just a sweet streak that’s about to turn sour? The Pies have truly played out of their skin with an average winning margin just over two goals. They have come up clutch week in week out to scrape in over each of their respective opponents. Their ability to get the 4 points as admirable as their gutsy and gruelling game style.
It is finals time now though, and all the triumphs along the way count for little if they are not replicated when it matters. Is the style of football they play is sustainable through September?
As much as the Pies play hard and attacking footy their style of football comes under fire when they can’t control the ball and lock down. In order to thrive the Pies love to intercept and rebound. They are tested when teams apply immense amounts of pressure. The Swans have the second highest pressure acts, and are one of the highest scoring and most efficient teams in the competition. Despite falling short against this Sydney onslaught the Maggies recovered their momentum with the weekend’s remarkable last gasp victory against the oldest enemy. McRae’s men simply do not give in.
They now find themselves with a week off to prepare for a ‘free swing’ at the cats on their hallowed home turf – no sensible footy fan could dismiss the threat they pose to the minor premiers. The flag favourite Cats will be not be bested easily, but Collingwood have proven to the AFL community that they cannot be written off and are now a legitimate contender for the 2023 AFL premiership.
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