Magpies strive for AFL consistency

Nathan Buckley is adamant there will be no white flag flown at Collingwood now the AFL finals are out of reach.

The Magpies’ coach billed last Friday night’s game against North Melbourne as a mini-final, but the Kangaroos beat them by 40 points.

It means Collingwood will miss the top eight for the third season in a row – something that has not happened in 15 years.

The Magpies will host fifth-placed West Coast on Saturday at the MCG.

While Buckley lamented another poor start in the Kangaroos loss, he noted that his team fought back hard when North had control late in the third term.

Collingwood managed to reduce the margin to 16 points in the last quarter before North kicked clear to win by 40.

“We probably had a choice, five minutes to go in the third quarter last week … whether we put the white flag up or battle it out,” he said.

“The next 30 minutes, for all intents and purposes, we could have been back level.

“But you don’t want to be digging yourself out of holes like that.

“In a snapshot, it probably shows you what we’re capable of at our best.”

The North game also was a microcosm of Collingwood’s season – good in parts, but not for often enough.

“We’ve shown our game stacks up when we put it together and that’s regardless of personnel,” Buckley said.

“We’ve also shown we’re not a good enough team yet to do it consistently.

“When we’re not ‘on’, we (need to be) at a seven out of 10, not dropping to a four or five or a three at times.

“That’s what good sides do.”

There were widespread expectations before this season that the Magpies would return to the finals.

Buckley has said throughout this up-and-down year that his focus remains on developing the team for long-term success.

He said the focus with team selection for the rest of the season would be on trying to win.

And after three weeks of slow starts, Buckley will demand a better first term against the Eagles.

“I’m happy to put us on the hook about that,” he said.

“You need to play solid footy from the first siren to the last to be able to counter good sides – we weren’t able to do that last week.”

Buckley said it was a matter of doing the basics better, such as hitting targets and clean ball handling.

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