Collingwood skipper: We aren’t that far away
COLLINGWOOD captain Scott Pendlebury is refusing to blame manpower issues for the club's troubling slide out of the top four and insists they can swiftly put themselves back into the premiership race if they tighten things up defensively.
Disappointed with the club's fourth loss in five games, Pendlebury said injuries were always a concern, but stressed the club had similar issues last year but was able to deal with the changing nature of the team in a better fashion.
"I think just getting used to new guys coming in (takes some adjustment), and last year we handled that well," Pendlebury said.
"We don't seem to have handled it as well this year.
"I thought the group we had out there was good enough to get the result, (but) we hit a side that is full of confidence and they played some pretty good footy."
After Collingwood kicked the opening goal of Friday night's game, Richmond went on a scoring rampage that Pendlebury accepted his team was ill-equipped to stop.
"I actually don't think we are that far away," he said.
"I think if we can tighten up our defensive actions a little bit (it will help) ... they were able to come through the middle a little too easy.
"(But) we hung in there and we kept fighting to the end.
"We have got to keep working and get some consistency from the way we play. I think we were a little bit off and they piled on four or five quick goals."
He said losing Jordan Roughead to concussion was telling, even though the Magpie defender had already had his hands full with a dominant Tom Lynch.
"You look at a guy like Tom Lynch and he has got a guy like 'Shaz' (Matthew Scharenberg) or 'Howey' (Jeremy Howe) on him," Pendlebury said.
"He is six-foot-seven and is just a mountain of a man. The guys really had a crack but he is one of the best key forwards for a reason.
"He just took his chance and he was probably the difference in the end."
But the skipper isn't prepared to dismiss the Magpies' chances of turning their season around, starting with Gold Coast.
"Every side has gone through a struggle and it wasn't too long ago that Richmond was struggling," he said.
"We'll keep tipping away, there is four weeks left of the real season for us. We'll find some form and get some confidence and see what we can do."
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley admitted his side was a "bit off at the moment", but remained confident they could be turned it around in time to launch a September assault this season.
"We lost the game quite convincingly but I'm not disheartened by what we saw, in many ways," Buckley said.
"There's a lot of improvement in us but we've got a month to find that if we're going to give ourselves any chance when we get into the other side of the home-and-away, and we've still got to quality for that as well."
When asked what his side could do to turn it around, Buckley said: "Keep believing in the way that we think the game should be played.
"There's enough evidence over the last year and a half that when we do what we do well, it stacks up.
"We're just a little bit off at the moment.
"We've generally covered for each other really well in a role sense and been able to come together and find some really good team synergy and we're probably a couple of per cent off that as well.
"It doesn't take much - the margins are pretty small in elite competition."
The Magpies coach said he was buoyed by the way his Magpies fought out the match after being ambushed early.
"The players had a choice about halfway through the second quarter which way they wanted to go," he said.
"And they continued to want to dig in, and that's a good sign for a coach."
Midfielder Taylor Adams was a late withdrawal from the match with a hamstring complaint, and Buckley said he would be monitored by the club.
"He may be a chance for next week, but we'll see how it goes through the week."
HARDWICK: TIGERS DID HOMEWORK ON PIES
Damien Hardwick has revealed a close examination of Collingwood's systematic round-two victory over Richmond played a huge part in Friday night's emphatic 32-point victory.
Back then, the Magpies controlled the ball and used slow play and chip marks to bring the Tigers undone.
Hardwick was adamant he wouldn't fall for the same system.
"We sort of looked at the round-two loss as a bit of a learning curve for us," he said.
"You learn more from your losses than your wins, so we went to work on a couple of things we could have rectified from our defensive point of view from their slow play.
"I think we have seen some really good benefits from that over the last 10 to 12 weeks.
"It has taken a bit of time and we have had some personnel issues obviously, but we are starting to get some of those players back."
Hardwick said the Tigers had broken their season down to four-week blocks, with the latest one coming to a close in next week's game against Melbourne.
"We have ticked three of the four off so far (in this latest block) and we have got Melbourne next week," he said.
"Many people will look at their ladder position ... (but) they are capable of beating any side on their day."
He praised the Richmond backline for their hard work, including Dylan Grimes, who was outstanding, and Bachar Houli, who was chaired off after his 200th game.