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Dawes talks up Magpies' forward pressure

By Sam Lienert 15/09/2010 01:58:20 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood's ability to blanket Geelong's run from defence will be enhanced by their long break ahead of Friday night's AFL preliminary final, Magpies forward Chris Dawes believes.

Dawes said Collingwood's talent for holding the ball in their attacking 50m with their highly-effective forward press, would be a key.

And given the workrate required, freshness was an asset.

"Absolutely I think so, we're a fit side and rely on that a lot so that we can sustain that pressure we apply to teams," Dawes said.

"That's been so good during the year so the week off can only help that."

Having finally established himself in the senior team in his fourth year on Collingwood's list, the 22-year-old is one of seven Magpies not in the side a year ago but likely to play on Friday night.

Those additions have helped solve some major problems from the 73-point preliminary final whipping by the Cats that ended their 2009 campaign.

The inclusion of Scott Pendlebury, out with a broken leg last September, and ex-St Kilda recruit Luke Ball, has added enormous ball-winning capacity, after they were thrashed 16-6 in the centre clearances a year ago.

Darren Jolly's recruitment from Sydney was another big win, recharging a ruck department that lost the hit-out count 49-21 in last years preliminary final.

The other glaring problem was the failure of their big forwards to fire.

Travis Cloke, whose form is much better now than a year ago, managed just four marks and one behind, while John Anthony was thrashed by Cats fullback Matthew Scarlett, with just seven touches, one mark and one behind.

Among much improvement to the way Collingwood's attack operates, the replacement of Anthony with the bigger, stronger Dawes should provide a significantly greater threat to likely opponent Scarlett.

The Cats fullback tuned up for the clash with a damaging 21-touch performance against Fremantle last weekend, and Dawes acknowledged stopping that drive was a focus.

"That's probably been a strength of Geelong's backline, that like their midfield they can generate a lot of run and they can rebound the ball from their back half," Dawes said.

"But then the other side of that is our forward line all year, a strength of ours has been to squeeze teams up and really pressure them in our front half.

"So you could probably expect to see a lot of that on the weekend, the game played in our front half with us bringing our massive pressure and them trying to create their run through it."

The Cats struggled in that area when the Magpies downed them by 22 points six weeks ago, but Dawes doubted they would change their high-risk, direct style.

"They like to move the ball quickly, so I'd expect that to be their method.

"For us, we'll be trying to apply a lot of defensive pressure and really slow them up, take away their strength."

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