The third of Sunday AFL Round 19 matches is between Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers. The game is set to commence at 4:40pm local time with the game to be played at MCG. Home team Collingwood Magpies go into the match as the favourites in the market. View our preview and teams for the game between Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers.
You wonder how long they can shoulder the circus that surrounds the club though, especially as the focus turns to finals football.
Last week they felt the full force of Hawthorn 143 – 87 and with North, Carlton and Richmond part of their run home to the finals, the Bombers will need to win more than their share if they are going to finish with a coveted top four spot.
Collingwood continue a year of inconsistent performance and after losing to Gold Coast in round 17, had to come from behind at the major break and only put GWS away in the final quarter last week.
They will not be afforded that opportunity here against a side that has lost only four games this year.
Last time these two sides met in round 5 this year, Essendon were comfortably victors (121 – 75) and whilst that was their first win against Collingwood in a number of years, they can go back-to-back here.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his team fully deserves to be seventh on the AFL ladder but is confident they can still match the top sides.
The Magpies will be able to test Buckley’s theory on Sunday at the MCG when they line up against fourth-placed Essendon.
Inconsistency has ruined Collingwood’s hopes of a top-four berth with five rounds to play before the finals.
Buckley said those teams, as well as fifth-ranked Fremantle, were able to deliver week in, week out over four quarters.
“We’re a way off those sides, to be honest,” he said.
“When you look at the ladder, that’s a really accurate reflection.
“We’ve played every side once now and we sit seventh with a percentage of 110 and that’s where we deserve to be.”
He said he still had the belief that Collingwood could close the gap.
“It’s all in our control,” said Buckley.
“Our best football is pretty good.
“If our best footy wasn’t good enough it would be a totally different scenario.”
He said this week’s game was an opportunity for his team to “set an agenda” for their tough run home, which includes ladder leaders Hawthorn and defending champions Sydney.
Collingwood swingman Ben Reid is a chance to play after recovering faster than expected from an ankle injury suffered late in the 40-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
Buckley said if fit, Reid would play forward alongside Travis Cloke, giving the team a better balance.
“We’ve got to work a little bit harder to get numbers into our attacking area to give ourselves the best chance to score but also to find other options that the opposition need to defend.
“That’s an area we haven’t done as well over the last couple of weeks.”
Darren Jolly is available after overcoming minor knee surgery, as well as fellow ruckman Ben Hudson (calf).
Buckley said he was likely to opt for experience, rather than play young ruckmen Jarrod Witts and Brodie Grundy against Bombers star Paddy Ryder.
“Commonsense would tell you that the experience is going to be important,” he said.
“They were impressive, defensively Brodie’s aggression was clear and evident and that was a big plus.
“Those two are giving us questions to answer at match committee.”