It was ugly, his side were well below their best and it came with just seconds to spare, but don’t tell Nathan Buckley Collingwood’s heart-stopping one-point win over Richmond was an act of thievery.
On the back of Alex Fasolo’s career-best six-goal haul, the Magpies stunned the Tigers when Brodie Grundy hacked the game-winner out of heavy traffic at the top of the goal square at the MCG with just four seconds left on Friday night.
“No, it’s not a steal – the game goes for the full whack, you don’t stop five minutes before (the final siren),” Buckley said.
“It was admirable the way that we were able to stay with it long enough. It’s a 124-minute game and it took every one of those minutes, but the attitude and effort was a lot better, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to take advantages of the breaks that we got in the last five minutes.
“I don’t think either side played particularly well. We gave them chances, they gave us chances and in the end, we finished on top.”
The win will surely soothe frayed Magpie nerves after a horrendous start to the season that included an 80-point loss to Sydney, that saw Dane Swan knocked out with a career-threatening injury and Steele Sidebottom suspended for two games, and an illicit drugs controversy.
Buckley, however, denied those factors made the win any sweeter.
The coach was more effusive in his praise for Fasolo, who played arguably the best game of his 71-match career after a period of soul searching late last season.
“The growth in Faz personally, has seen growth in his footy,” he said.
“It’s only early in the year, but the last six to eight games last year he really set himself up.
“He adjusted his attitude a little bit towards footy and where he fits at the footy club, and it’s just brought him to another level. It’s good to see him get the rewards tonight.
“He’s a better teammate than he’s been before. He’s more invested in what’s going on around him than he was before and that’s a significant shift.
“All credit to him because it takes courage to do that and he’s given himself a chance to find out where he can go with his footy career, let alone changing his perspective on the rest of his life.”