COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley says “belief” was the key in the Magpies’ stunning fightback against North Melbourne yesterday that delivered his team a 17point win at the MCG.
After recovering from what Buckley described as the team’s “worst half of footy” for the year, the Magpies set up their thrilling victory with a blazing third quarter in which they kicked nine goals to North’s zero.
Collingwood’s dominant third-term set up a 14-point lead at the final change, but they were forced to hold off a late charge from the Kanga- roos, who kicked four of the first five goals in the final quarter.
The Magpies had trailed the Kangaroos by 39-points at half-time, but Buckley said his players had never lost faith that they could get themselves back into the game.
“I think we have got a young group that believes that it can be good, that believes that it can play good footy,’’ Buckley said after the game.
“Talking to a few of the boys, I don’t know how, but they never felt like they were going to lose the game.
“So given the performance and where we got to at stages during the first half, that’s a pretty big call.”
The Magpies were powered by a five-goal haul from small forward Jamie Elliott, who kicked all of his majors in the second half, while veteran Dane Swan had a gamehigh 32 disposals.
But as impressive as the Magpies’ fightback was, Buckley said his team needed to do more to ensure they did not find themselves in that position in the first place.
“That’s the worst half of footy we have played this year. We were that far off it, it wasn’t funny,’’ Buckley said.
“We didn’t play anywhere near as well as we would have liked to. MCG next round, needed to find a way to bridge the gap between their best and their worst football during games.
“There were some efforts that once again let the opposition back in (in the last term) and we have got to continue to grow and evolve because the best sides just don’t let up,’’ Buckley said.
“We have got to find that middle range where our worst isn’t that bad and bring it up to our best because that’s what the best teams do.’’
Buckley dismissed concerns over Scott Pendlebury, who overcame a quiet first half to finish with 25 disposals, saying he had struggled to get into the game early.