Collingwood haven’t been disgraced on their way to three defeats on the trot, but at some point the losses – no matter how honourable – start to wear thin.
The Pies surrendered their top-four spot after going down to Fremantle, Hawthorn, then Port Adelaide, and now face the tough task of arresting that slide against high-flying West Coast.
There is a little bit of frustration, but at the same time, and it might sound funny to say after losing three games, the belief is still really strong in the group, assistant coach Ben Hart told AAP.
“Against quality opposition, we managed to do a lot right to put ourselves in with the opportunity to win, but probably just weren’t able to finish off at the right times, and take advantage of field position or the amount of inside 50s we were able to manage.
“There’s certainly some optimism around what we’re doing, but we’d love to be able to walk away having won two of those three.
“It doesn’t take away from that belief and we know going forward that we can match it with those teams.”
Nathan Buckley made four changes to the side that narrowly lost to the Power at Adelaide Oval.
Jamie Elliott is a big out, with a back complaint, Taylor Adams is suspended for two weeks for kneeing Justin Westhoff, Tim Broomhead is out with a shoulder injury and Darcy Moore was dropped.
Levi Greenwood is in for his first game for premiership points since crossing from North Melbourne, with the former Roo joined by Marley Williams, Paul Seedsman and Ben Kennedy.
The second-placed Eagles are gunning for their sixth win in a row and stuck with the same 22 that defeated Adelaide by 56 points.
With the addition of Jack Darling, who played his fourth game back from a long-term foot injury against the Crows, West Coast boast one of the most potent attacks in the competition.
“They’re second on the ladder for a reason. They’ve got their A-game going really well,” Hart said.
“They’ve got some damaging forwards and they’ve shown that they can really kick a score.
“I think our ability to get some clearances and actually gain field position against them is going to be important.
“But our ability as a defence to get across and help one another and defend as a group rather than one on one will also be a key for us.”