Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says key forwards Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes shouldn’t have to wear all the blame for Saturday night’s AFL loss to North Melbourne, despite poor performances.
The pair continued their disappointing seasons by going goal-less in Saturday night’s 13.13 (91) to 8.13 (61) loss to the Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium.
Cloke did not take a mark until the second half and even then his kicking was off-target, with 0.3, while Dawes looked bereft of confidence, failing to score and at one stage dropping what should have been a simple chest mark.
Cloke’s performance will feed speculation the pressure of his uncertain contract status continues to burden him, as he weighs up long-term $1 million-per-season offers from rival clubs.
Even some Magpies fans seemed to lose patience with the pair at times, with some derisive groans sounding from the crowd.
But Buckley said there were plenty of other Magpies who had off nights.
“It’s pretty clear that everyone wants to pin it on Dawesy or Clokey,” Buckley said.
“It’s not two blokes.
“The whole side were poor.
“I don’t think we had any winners in their positions.
“(Dayne Beams) had 38 touches but the blokes that he was playing on were getting away and were just as damaging offensively the other way.
“I struggle to go through our 22 and find a winner and you’re not going to win many games if that’s the case.”
But Buckley acknowledged Cloke and Dawes were soundly beaten by respective opponents Scott Thompson and Luke Delaney.
“Yeah, Dawesy and Trav were outpositioned a number of times,” Buckley said.
“Some of that was because of the poor ball use going in.
“But I just thought at others that Thompson and Delaney in particular were able to outposition their men and if you can’t get first access to the ball you’re going to struggle in this game.”
Magpies skipper Nick Maxwell sustained a hip flexor injury, which needs further assessment.
But Dane Swan will return from his club-imposed suspension and Alan Toovey from injury against West Coast in Perth on Saturday night, while Ben Johnson pressed his comeback claims with a strong VFL performance.