Magpies' AFL win 'breaks mental barrier' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies' AFL win 'breaks mental barrier'

By Sam Lienert 25/04/2006 08:12:10 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse says his club's first Anzac Day AFL victory in four years over Essendon rid his players of a significant mental barrier.

The victory gave the 'Pies three consecutive wins and third place on the ladder, but just as importantly was a breakthrough in what has become the biggest day on the AFL calendar outside of finals.

Malthouse said the Bombers' dominant recent record in their annual Anzac Day clashes - with Essendon having won the previous three and six of the previous seven - had threatened to turn the fixture into a nightmare.

But, in a pressure-packed atmosphere in front of 91,234 supporters in the first AFL match at the new-look MCG, those fears were laid to rest.

"It's refreshing to come away with a victory and I guess one of the most important things is that it rewards a few of those people that have been sticking with the club for so long," Malthouse said.

With Essendon having won the club's past four head-to-head meetings, Malthouse said he wondered early in Tuesday's match when the Bombers surged to the lead whether his players were too caught up by the identity of their opponent.

"They're the things that can become a coach's nightmare," Malthouse said.

"All the preparation, all the strategies, all the things that you can control during the week, at 2.40pm you can only control a certain amount of it."

But Malthouse said he sensed the Magpies' focus shifting late in the first quarter from the significance of the occasion to what they needed to do to win, which he said was a victory in itself.

"We were able to work through that," Malthouse said.

"We didn't look at Essendon, we looked at their game, and under those circumstances our players were able to put their nose in front and that to me is significant more so than anything else.

"Right through history you'll see that: Why is it certain boxers can't beat other blokes? Why does a batsman struggle against a certain bowler? Why does Nadal have it all over Federer? He seems to.

"You think there has to be something about not the person, but the way they play and I think we overcame that today."

For Essendon, which now has just one win from four matches, it will be tough to recover.

The Bombers have to play in-form Hawthorn on Sunday, giving them just five days between games, compared to the Hawks' nine.

The match also showed how much the Bombers will miss injured skipper Matthew Lloyd, who left a huge hole up forward.

Essendon's troubles could be added to, with experienced midfielder Jason Johnson making late head-high contact to Brodie Holland, after Holland had marked in the final quarter, in an incident that could attract the attention of the match review panel.

On the positive side, coach Kevin Sheedy said his side had a lot of young players in today, several who were playing in the biggest game of their careers so far.

"We were extremely competitive and I think we're going about it the right way, we're just not winning enough games," he said.

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