Magpies midfield ready for AFL challenge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Magpies midfield ready for AFL challenge

Sam Lienert 09/09/2011 02:04:32 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood star Scott Pendlebury says the Magpies midfield will relish the pressure of roving to a potentially dominant West Coast ruck duo in Saturday's AFL qualifying final at the MCG.

The gun midfielder said while Collingwood's onballers would back their own ruckmen to an extent, they were also planning in case the Eagles' Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui controlled the hit-outs.

"We're not stupid enough to know that West Coast aren't going to win some hit-outs, so we want to make sure we know where it's going to go," Pendlebury told AAP.

"It's where I reckon the game's going to be won or lost this weekend, in the stoppages.

"That's great for us midfielders, because it puts the pressure on us and also puts the pressure on them."

Collingwood will take confidence from their previous meeting with the Eagles this season, a nine-goal win at the MCG in round 10.

On that occasion, they were thrashed 55-23 in the hit-outs, but still managed to break even in the clearance count.

The Magpies' No.1 ruckman Darren Jolly was out injured for that game, with Cameron Wood doing the bulk of the ruckwork.

That will be reversed on Saturday, with Jolly to play largely a lone hand, as Wood has been dropped.

Jolly and Wood were well beaten by Geelong pair Brad Ottens and Trent West as the Magpies were thrashed by 96 points last Friday night.

Pendlebury said Collingwood's midfield group had studied footage of where Cox and Naitanui liked to tap the ball, but there was a limit to how much they could be predicted.

"Naitanui can sort of hit it wherever he wants, so it's pretty hard to read those guys, because they are such elite ruckmen," he said.

"But you go through it and we've just got to back our structure, that if we're in the right spots it will counter whatever they're going to do."

Pendlebury dismissed the theory that wet weather could help Collingwood's chances, by negating the Eagles' strength in their ruck and tall forward stocks.

"It's just going to reinforce how important stoppages are, there are going to be more stoppages," he said.

"I think it's a bit of a myth that if you've got big guys, they're poor in the wet.

"They just create more contests for the little guys around them, they've got great little guys."

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