'Magpies must improve to challenge Cats' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Magpies must improve to challenge Cats'

By Roger Vaughan 20/05/2008 07:28:51 PM Comments (0)

They came so close to achieving the unbelievable last September, but Nick Maxwell knows Collingwood can draw only so much from the AFL near-miracle.

The Magpies will play premiers Geelong this Friday night at the MCG, the first time they have met since their epic AFL preliminary final.

The Cats beat Collingwood by just five points in a heart-stopper, a week before their historic first premiership in 44 years.

To underline how well Collingwood played that night, the powerful Cats won their other two finals by more than 100 points.

Maxwell said Collingwood could draw some encouragement from the match, but they must improve greatly to push the Cats again.

While Geelong are unbeaten, Collingwood are 4-4 and trying to build some momentum.

"Obviously we're a long way off where we were last year, we've got a lot of improvement to do," Maxwell said.

"A lot of guys are still down (and) as a team, we're not working as well together as we were last year.

"But you do take confidence in the fact that we did push them a long way last year.

"Although there are a few different people out there, predominantly they're pretty similar teams."

If Collingwood can click, Maxwell feels that can match anyone - even the unbeaten trio of Geelong, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs.

"When everyone is working together and doing the right thing for each other, we can push anyone - I think we can beat anyone," he said.

"Even though a couple of weeks ago, Hawthorn gave us a belting ... last year we lost to them by (eight points) as well.

"We haven't got the stars of a lot of other clubs, (but) we're very even across the board and we need everyone performing to their best to be a good challenger for those good teams."

Geelong's even spread of great talent through their attack will push Maxwell and his fellow defenders.

The Collingwood defence is missing James Clement (retired) and Simon Prestigiacomo (foot injury), but Maxwell said the rise of youngsters such as Martin Clarke and Nathan Brown were filling the void.

"Obviously for the last 18 months they (the Geelong attack) have been the benchmark, it's going to be a tough one for us," he said.

"But as a back six, we're really starting to work together well and the young guys are stepping up.

"Marty Clarke is back in good form and Nathan Brown has taken on the roles we've given him really well.

"So throw them in with the other guys who are down there and I think we're going pretty well."

Maxwell added the Magpies expect ruckman Josh Fraser to return from his knee injury.

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