Malthouse rues lost momentum - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Malthouse rues lost momentum

By Roger Vaughan 31/08/2009 06:24:29 AM Comments (0)

Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse was scratching for positives after their side lost the game and third spot on the AFL ladder to the Western Bulldogs.

Malthouse was unconcerned about playing St Kilda rather than Geelong in next weekend's qualifying finals, but the 14.16 (100) to 10.16 (76) loss to the Bulldogs cost the Magpies precious momentum heading into the finals.

Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson kicked the last goal of the regular season in Sunday's pulsating twilight match at Etihad Stadium with just over a minute left.

The Bulldogs had to win by 22 points or more to swap third and fourth places with Collingwood and the final margin was 24.

The two sides finished on 15 wins and the Bulldogs' percentage was just .3 better than that of Collingwood.

"Quite frankly, I know this might be an overstatement ... I can't think of any clear winners," Malthouse said post-match.

"Our backs got muddled - generally they're very, very good at knowing the opposition.

"We were very, very poor in the middle and our forward line didn't function at all."

Trailing by 12 points at half time, Collingwood kicked the opening four goals of the third term to put the Bulldogs under pressure.

But the 'Dogs quickly snuffed out the challenge with the last four goals of the quarter, restoring the half-time status quo.

Asked how frustrating it was to lose in round 22, Malthouse replied: "terribly - you lose your momentum and that's something we didn't want, we didn't need.

"It's not the greatest thing to be losing in round 22 - it has happened, things do happen, you've got to get over it."

For the second time in as many games, the Bulldogs responded brilliantly after being challenged through the middle of the match.

Last week they fended off Geelong's challenge.

After the round-19 shocker against West Coast, the 'Dogs have built strong momentum for the finals with wins over Brisbane, the Cats and the Magpies.

"Being able to fight back when we were challenged, when we were headed - that way of winning cements more belief than if you keep building on a win each quarter by two goals and you win by eight," said Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade.

The only downside of the win is the Bulldogs will play Geelong on Saturday, rather than St Kilda on Sunday in the other qualifying final.

That means they have slightly less than six days' break.

But the Bulldogs have known about this scenario for several weeks.

"That might be a minute difference, I suppose, obviously you'd prefer in an ideal world to have seven days' (break)," Eade said.

Bulldogs key defender Brian Lake was best afield and Johnson kicked four goals, while defender Heath Shaw was outstanding for the Magpies.

The 'Dogs will regain ruckman Ben Hudson, who was a late withdrawal against Collingwood, and Ryan Griffen (hamstring) will also be available.

The Magpies should regain Leigh Brown from illness, but fellow late withdrawal Scott Pendlebury has back trouble and Malthouse is unsure if he will be available.

Malthouse said several players in their VFL team, such as key forward Anthony Rocca, were pressing for senior recalls.

The Magpies coach will have no trouble making several changes going into the finals.

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