Evenly matched as Collingwood and West Coast enter tonight’s final with fair amount of confidence

BY Paul Roos – September 15, 2012

BOTH teams will go into tonight’s match confident they can win.

West Coast because of its form last week and its victory over the Magpies in Round 22.

The Pies because they have won seven of the past eight matches between these sides at the MCG, including Round 13.

There are two key stats from the Round 22 clash that Collingwood needs to address. I’m certain it will.

West Coast won 33 more contested possessions than the Magpies and its ruckman dominated the hit-outs 59-12.

I can’t see the quality and competitiveness of the Magpies stars not turning these stats around.

Darren Jolly (below) is in the side tonight and that will make an immediate difference on Round 22.

The Magpies’ biggest concern is they do not appear to have the personnel or mindset to shut down key midfielders.

This is in stark contrast to the Eagles, who have the Selwood brothers who constantly negate quality opponents but not at the expense of getting the ball themselves.

The Pies have allowed the opposition to score from 27 per cent of clearances this season – the sixth-highest percentage conceded by any side this season.

This is a concern against the Eagles. And if Nic Naitanui and Dean Cox can dominate the hit-outs they will find free Eagles.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley may choose to have a more one-on-one approach at ground level but this is unlikely. This puts enormous pressure on Jolly and may expose the Pies’ lack of a genuine second ruckman.

I have no doubt that Collingwood’s absolute best is good enough to beat the Eagles at the MCG tonight. It is an incredibly talented team and we are now at the business end of the season.

Will the Pies rise to the occasion tonight and play their best game for 2012?

I BELIEVE Shaw’s form is integral in the Pies winning tonight. He must resume his running role from half-back where he generates so much run and drive for the Pies.

He is a great decision-maker and executes well with his kicking. Last week the coaching staff moved him around and at one stage he was playing at full forward.

Darren Jolly

COLLINGWOOD finished with just 127 effective kicks against Hawthorn last week, its third fewest in any game this season.

The Pies at times this year have looked confused when in possession. Is their ball movement going to be wide or through the corridor?

Their best and most efficient style has been by foot, conservative, and to a leading target upfield.

THE Eagles have won 17 final quarters this year. There is no question if it is close at three-quarter time they will give themselves a genuine chance of winning.

Even though the Kangas looked tired last week, it should not take away from how well coach John Worsfold’s team finished off the game. The travel factor should not be an issue.

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