AFL Magpies eye off top spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL Magpies eye off top spot

Greg Buckle 03/07/2011 07:42:43 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood moved a step closer to regaining top spot on the AFL ladder with their 41-point win over fourth-placed Hawthorn on Sunday.

While midfielder Dale Thomas was reluctant to ponder the prospect, the Magpies picked a fine time to crush the Hawks, just a day after Geelong suffered their first loss of the season by four points against Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

After 15 rounds of the AFL season, the Cats remain on top with a 13-1 record while the Magpies are second on 12-1 with a superior percentage.

Defending premiers Collingwood, who have already had both their byes for the 2011 season, will start strong favourites against 10th-placed North Melbourne next week.

Collingwood play Geelong in round 24 in what is shaping as a battle for the minor premiership.

"To back up against a side who in the past had really troubled us, the boys will take something out of that," said Thomas, mindful of the fact the Hawks had won five of their past six clashes with Collingwood.

"We knew that they were playing good footy and they were fantastic last week (against Essendon).

"We knew we had to be on top of our game today if we were going to get the points.

"We really did come out and play that type of football."

Hawthorn couldn't cope with Collingwood's high-pressure game and the Hawks put only four behinds on the scoreboard in the first quarter and managed just 2.4 in the first half to be 39 points down at the main break.

Collingwood won 15.16 (106) to 9.11 (65) with Thomas one of four Magpies to reach 30 possessions or more alongside Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury and defender Ben Reid.

"That has been the best part of our season for this year and last year as well, the evenness across the board and not relying on too few to get the job done," Thomas said.

"It's always nice to keep the opposition goal-less in the first quarter. We thought we really executed well in that first quarter.

"For the boys to do that againsta side that has really troubled us was a pretty good effort.

"When everyone is playing their role we structure up really well, I think we're pretty hard to beat."

Thomas and coach Mick Malthouse were thrilled with the performance of ruckman Darren Jolly in his first game since minor knee surgery in April.

"He had the training camp over in Arizona, what that does for someone is really fast-tracks them back into the process," Thomas said.

Asked about Collingwood's hopes of top spot, Thomas said: "We can only worry about who we come up against.

"If we can play our roles and play to our structures, hopefully we're going to be hard to beat."

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