It might not have been pretty, but Collingwood continued their impressive run of form with a thrilling late victory against a spirited Brisbane Lions side at the Gabba. Having started the season with back-to-back defeats, the Magpies went on a three-game winning run before coming up against ladder-leading Richmond. That third loss of the campaign would have looked a lot worse if Collingwood had followed it up with defeat to the Lions, but Nathan Buckley’s men fought off a Brisbane side looking for their first win of the season to get back on track.
Playing against Richmond, one of the strongest teams in the league, Collingwood showed they certainly aren’t a pushover. From their solid defence to their hard-working midfield and dangerous forward line, the ‘Pies looked as good as Richmond for large parts of the game, something they didn’t always manage to do against the Lions. While they were in control for large parts of the game in Brisbane, the Magpies never looked like running away with the game.
Rookie Jaidyn Stephenson was the ‘Pies hero, popping up with two minutes to go to give his side a lead they then held on to. Stephenson might have made the headlines, but the man who set up the match-winning score, Jordan De Goey, was the real difference between the two sides, scoring five goals in a sensational performance from a midfielder quickly establishing himself as one of the most influential in the league. The 22-year-old has been a solid, if unspectacular, member of the team this season, but this performance came when his side most needed it.
For a Collingwood team that have failed to record a top-fight finish since 2013, it’s perhaps no surprise to see them priced at around 8/13 with the latest AFL odds to reach the finals this year when you look at their form this season. Aside from their disappointing first two rounds, the ‘Pies have looked as good as any, pushing an in-form Richmond team all the way in round six. A key reason for that success has been the Collingwood engine room, featuring the experienced Steele Sidebottom, Tom Phillips and former Greater Western Sydney star Adam Treloar, all of whom have really stood up to be counted during this early part of the season.
Up next for the ‘Pies is a crucial game against fellow top-eight contenders Geelong, in a clash that will have a big say on whether Collingwood are really going to be able to compete with the strongest teams in the league. With so many teams in contention for a place in the finals, Collingwood can ill afford the sort of inconsistency that has plagued them in recent years. Boasting their strongest squad for some time, this really needs to be the season in which this team prove they can put it all together over the course of a regular season.
For the team’s big names, their patience may be running out for Collingwood to show they are going places. But the good news is that this ‘Pies team look a different beast entirely.