Collingwood are well aware of their ball-movement problems, according to coach Nathan Buckley, who says significant improvement in this area is possible during the club's finals campaign.
While the Pies are one of the fastest sides in the competition to play on from marks, statistics show they over-handball and are last for metres gained per possession in the league.
Nathan Buckley is aware of the Pies’ ball movement problems but is optimistic they can improve quickly. Credit:Getty Images
They're also the only finals side not in the top eight for scoring.
Heading into their elimination final against West Coast on Saturday night as heavy underdogs, these numbers essentially say the Pies do not get the ball to their forwards directly enough.
Buckley was candid about his side's deficiencies in this area when speaking to the media on Thursday.
"It's definitely something we can improve on," Buckley said.
"We have been working towards that for five or six years, not just five or six weeks.
"When we are open we express ourselves and when we execute kicks and handballs in the right order we connect really well, we give our forwards really good supply and we score heavily."
He said ball use in the Magpies' defensive and middle thirds of the ground wasn't too bad, but it buckled in attack.
"A couple of times against Port Adelaide, running through the top of the forward 50 unpressured with time and space suggests we are putting players in the right positions but we are not finishing off well enough. Whether that's the last kick inside or whether that's the shot on goal," he said.
"So there is growth. We are not shying away from that, there is improvement in us. And we think it is not marginal, there's a big chunk of improvement for us to go and chase.
"I understand the conversation, it is not something we're sweeping under the carpet, it is definitely an area that we believe we can get right and it can have a significant impact on our performances in the next month."
Buckley said it was potentially off the mark to say the Pies played too slowly, hinting their overuse was the actual issue.
"We are one of the faster mark [to] play on sides in the competition," he said.
"We're not sure if that's actually helped us. That's been part of the discussion.
"We have been called slow and stagnant but we play on from a mark statistically in the top four in the second half of the year.
"We believe we have a plan which gives us the chance to score heavily, hold field position and challenge a really solid back seven that the West Coast Eagles have."
Collingwood were smashed by the Eagles at Optus Stadium in their only other clash this season.
Neither that result, Collingwood's patchy form nor their strict quarantine conditions in Perth were being dwelled on by the side, who firmly believed they could win, Buckey said.
He also would not be drawn on whether Jaidyn Stephenson would hold his spot in the team after another poor performance. Chris Mayne (fractured cheekbone) is available for selection.
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