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Dogs, Magpies out to claim a big scalp

By Sam Lienert and Roger Vaughan 07/07/2009 04:26:03 PM Comments (0)

The opportunity to claim a "big scalp" is motivating both the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood ahead of Friday night's AFL clash at Etihad Stadium.

While St Kilda and Geelong produced an epic at the same venue on Sunday, Friday night's match between the third-placed Dogs and fourth-placed Magpies will determine who is best placed to challenge their duopoly.

Both sides are in great form, the Bulldogs on a five-game winning streak - including last round's 88-point belting of reigning premiers Hawthorn - while the Magpies have won six straight.

But both clubs have mainly beaten opposition in the bottom half of the ladder.

Just one of the Bulldogs' 10 victories have come against a side currently in the eight, while for Collingwood it is just two of nine.

Both have fallen short against the Cats and Saints, meaning Friday night's encounter will be a chance to prove themselves against strong opposition as well as strengthen claims on a top four berth.

"Beating Hawthorn last week, last year's premiers, was a great result for us," Bulldogs assistant coach Leon Cameron said.

"But in terms of beating sides where they sit on the ladder throughout the year, we played St Kilda, they beat us, we played Geelong, they beat us, Collingwood are obviously now fourth.

"... To have a big scalp like Collingwood, they're probably sitting over there saying the same thing, they need a big scalp as well so it's going to be a fantastic match on Friday.

"Obviously last Sunday's match was built up, the St Kilda-Geelong game, but this one's getting built up just as large."

Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell said his side rated the Bulldogs alongside Geelong and St Kilda, particularly given the Bulldogs' most recent loss, against the Cats in round nine, was by just two points.

"People have been focussing on St Kilda and Geelong a lot, but the Bulldogs pushed Geelong all the way and they've been sensational, particularly last week, so obviously it's going to be a big game for us," Maxwell said.

He said the Magpies were looking forward to playing some higher ranked teams in coming weeks "to see where we're at".

The Bulldogs have won their past three matches against Collingwood, their superior running power allowing them to pull away after halftime on each occasion.

But Cameron said the Magpies had bolstered their midfield depth and had possibly bridged the gap in that area.

"We were going through our match committee last night and they've probably got 12-to-13 runners, very similar to us," he said.

"They've got a lot of smaller forwards who play in the midfield as well, so we do match up similarly in that.

"I think last year when we played them at Telstra Dome they had four or five key injuries so we only just got them in the end by about 10 points, we overran them in the end."

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