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The Pies changed their DNA against Dons, but Champion Data thinks they should do the opposite


Champion Data analyst Daniel Hoyne noticed a change in game style from Collingwood in their 80-92 loss to Essendon at the MCG last Friday.

While the Magpies have been renowned as a fast-moving team with rapid ball movement under Craig McRae, Hoyne noticed that the Pies tried to kick shorter against the Dons with more uncontested marks being taken compared to their usual chaotic brand.

Hoyne pondered whether this was to help the Pies set up better behind the ball from a defensive point of view given they leaked scores of 100+ in the two games prior.

While defence is clearly their issue, Hoyne isn’t certain that’s the way Collingwood should play if they’re trying to pick up wins.

“Over the last six weeks, defensively is clearly their issue,” Hoyne said on SEN Sportsday.

“They are the second easiest team in the competition to be able to turn possession into scores against and the most concerning element is that when they do turn the footy over, there's no easier team to punish on the way back.

“Almost one in four of their turnovers are getting punished on the scoreboard - compare that to Carlton where it's one in six of their turnovers are actually getting punished against.

“Just watching on the weekend, it just looked like to me that there was a little bit of a change in strategy with their ball movement game.

“I just wonder whether or not that was actually to try and protect this vulnerability behind the footy.

“Often under Craig McRae, we've seen a lot of kick long down the line, go-forward handballs, no uncontested marks … the ball is in motion more often than not in their games than anyone else across the competition.

“But we didn't see that on the weekend against Essendon. We saw far less long kicking. We saw less meterage by hands on the and we saw more uncontested marking.

“To me straight away, I just watched that going, ‘Is this to protect the backline group?’.”

Given the Magpies are still performing as a top-four or five offence, Hoyne pondered whether they should double down on what they’re doing from an attacking perspective and throw caution to the wind.

He thinks that the Pies could benefit from such an attacking game style much as Brisbane has over the last five weeks where they’ve begun a winning streak.

After McRae told SEN that Collingwood’s playing group and coaches had frank discussions about, ‘The team they want to be’, post the Essendon loss, Hoyne thinks we could see the Pies play in a very attacking style on Friday night against Geelong.

“Collingwood is still going to have a game over the next four or five weeks where they're going to be dangerous because what they're doing offensively at the moment is still top four or five in the competition … it's just defensively at the moment (where the problem is),” Hoyne said.

“Craig McRae mentioned on SEN yesterday that they had a bit of a sit-down and I just want to see Friday night if we’re going to see more of that chaotic and fast Collingwood.

“Will they go to the long down the line, handballing by metres gained with wave running that we've seen from them for two and a half years?

“Do you almost park the defensive stuff to one side and more really focus in on the asset that you've got which is a little bit of what Brisbane are doing at the moment.

“Brisbane's defensive stuff isn't rock solid. But what they're doing offensively is the reason why they've won five in a row.

“It’s more just to get yourself more so than worrying too much about the negative.

“That's what I'll be interested to see what happens with Collingwood on Friday night. Just get your absolute aggression back and actually don't try to compromise.

“What is your absolute strength? It could be, ‘Let's get it back on Friday night and really challenge Geelong’ in what could be an interesting game.”

Friday night’s game between the fifth-placed Cats and ninth-placed Pies begins at 7:40pm (AEST) at the MCG.

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Sportsday Collingwood

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