West Coast may have found a new way to torment Fremantle with Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley claiming the Eagles' defensive pressure had sharpened the Magpies' focus ahead of their clash with the Dockers at the MCG this Saturday.
Buckley said Fremantle were "looming large", but the intense West Coast pressure, which his team overcame to nail a club-record seventh straight win over the Eagles, was the perfect preparation for the defensive war expected with the Dockers under Ross Lyon.
"We rate (Fremantle) as a side defensively and they've got some massive strengths that we'll need to counter," Buckley said.
"They've shown some very strong defensive structures that's well documented with the coach, he rates defence first.
"Over the history of the sides that win finals, they are great defensive sides. Clearly, this club has had a lot to do with Ross Lyon-coached football clubs and have a great deal of respect for them.
"They have shown a real intent to move the ball as well and they've been quite aggressive at times. I think their game is coming together and we don't want it to be next week so we'll be doing whatever we have to do to break that down."
Buckley said the West Coast clash was a "game of momentum".
"It was a bit of an arm-wrestle and ultimately one that we're very happy to get the result in, but there's some work to do out of it," he said. "So really it was sort of backs against the wall for us for the majority of the match, but we're very happy to have been able to find a way to win when we didn't play the game on our terms for as long as we would have liked to.
"We're not sitting here thinking that we've won and everything's perfect. We'll take some real positives out of that, but there's lessons and there's things we need to look at to make sure that we're better next time around."
Collingwood forward Jarryd Blair, who booted two goals, said it was important that Collingwood continued to forge a dominant record at the MCG against Fremantle.
He said the West Coast battle was "pretty full-on" and predicted the two clubs would make it deep into the finals.
"You'd like to think that both us and West Coast will be there come September," Blair said.
"You'd probably say that that game had a finals intensity about it. I think blokes were pretty gassed by the end of it."
Buckley also said the Magpies had gained a new respect for what the Eagles could achieve this year.
"I would have thought that West Coast could take something out of today," he said.
"I thought their ball movement had the edge on ours, I thought they defended and pressured around the ball very well, they had the majority of field position and inside 50s that was a solid performance."If I was on that side of the fence, you'd be drawing from what was a really tight contest. For some periods of today, we were exposed by a very good opponent."
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