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Winless Magpies and ruck rule changes in spotlight

Football

Collingwood have staggered out of the blocks and coach Nathan Buckley says their 0-2 start is all they deserve.

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While the Magpies twice trailed by less than two goals late in last night’s 19-point loss to Richmond, the alarm bells are ringing.

Goalkicking inaccuracy is only the most obvious of several significant problems as Collingwood lost their opening two games for the first time since 2005 – when they finished 15th, but Buckley is in no mood to revisit the inevitable talk about his coaching future.

“We’re two rounds in… let’s take a breath,” he said.

While the Magpies have not been dreadful – they were ahead in most key statistics last week and only lost to the Western Bulldogs by 14 points – Buckley gave a damning assessment of their opening matches.

“We would have loved to have won both games, but we didn’t deserve either of them,” he said.

“We did a lot of things right last week – we’re not happy with our performance (against Richmond).

“There were a lot of things we didn’t do that we rate, and we had a lot of players who were down. There was too much left to too few.”

Buckley said they lacked daring and their ball movement against Richmond was not how they had trained.

They could have put Richmond under much more pressure in the second term, but kicked a wasteful 2.5 for the quarter.

Collingwood kept blowing chances after halftime and, inevitably, Richmond kicked in the door left open by the Magpies.

“We had a bit of a gap and we let it go in the third quarter and got run over,” Buckley said.

The Magpies now have a massive game next Friday night against Sydney at the SCG.

Collingwood are clearly missing playmakers such as Jordan De Goey, Daniel Wells and Jamie Elliott, who are all injured.

“It’s plain as day that we’ve got guys who add a bit of X-factor who aren’t in the side at the moment,” Buckley said.

But Tigers coach Damien Hardwick backed the Magpies, saying they easily could be 2-0.

“They’re not a 0-2 side,” he said.

“They’re going to be with us, thereabouts, pushing for the eight.

“Add De Goey back in there, add Wells, (Levi) Greenwood – they’re a good side.

“You can sit there and throw all the stones you want, but I’m telling you, I wouldn’t want to be meeting them, they’re a bloody good side.”

The AFL’s controversial new ruck rule returned to the spotlight after Richmond utility Shaun Grigg exploited it superbly with the match in the balance.

Grigg caught out opponent Brayden Maynard, earning a free kick and then kicking a crucial goal during the last quarter.

This season the AFL has banned the ‘third man up’ in ruck contests, polarising opinion among players – and Hardwick had no doubt Grigg engineered the free.

The two ruckmen have to nominate before each ruck contest and, while it is an unfamiliar role for Grigg, he filled in after Ben Griffiths suffered concussion.

Maynard had his back to the ball at a boundary throw in and did not realise Grigg was the designated ruckman.

As Grigg moved to the ball, Maynard went to block him and that meant a free kick against the young Magpies defender.

Grigg then kicked a long goal to put Richmond 20 points ahead with about 10 minutes left.

“Shaun Grigg is a smart player, he knew exactly what he was doing,” Hardwick said.

“He’s one of the smartest players I know and that’s why we pick him in the side every week.

“He knew he was in the ruck, poor old Maynard didn’t though, did he?

“You take the good with the bad.”

Buckley said Maynard had learned a tough lesson.

“Brayden is a young player, he’s still learning, at the very least he should be watching the ball,” Buckley said.

“You shouldn’t have your back to the ball and maybe that would have been enough. It was costly.”

-AAP

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