Collingwood defender Alan Toovey hopes it is no coincidence that the Magpies’ most recent AFL win over Hawthorn came in a final.
The Magpies are clear underdogs for Friday night’s qualifying final against the minor premiers and have suffered significant losses in the two clubs’ previous meetings this season.
While both were high-scoring affairs, when the Hawks and Magpies met under the pressure of a preliminary final last season, Collingwood snuck home by three points in a low-scoring grind.
Toovey hopes that’s because when the pressure rises in September, the precise kicking and running game that has served the Hawks so well during the home and away season doesn’t stand up as well as the Magpies’ more contested style.
“Finals football there’s always that bit more pressure than there is during the season,” Toovey told AAP.
“Everyone kind of picks up a gear.
“Hopefully that contested style that we try to play is better for finals and then we can have a good win on Friday night.”
The reliable backman said the Magpies aim to make Friday night’s game slow and contested, something they couldn’t manage when the Hawks cruised to a 47-point win in round 17.
“The way the Hawks are able to move the ball out of their defensive line and get it to the midfield and to their big key targets that they’ve got in their forward line, they’ve been exceptional at all year,” Toovey said.
“If we can really slow them down and lock the ball up and make as many contested possessions as possible, that’s probably the key.”
He said with Hawthorn’s slick ball movement from defence and wide array of potential goal-kickers, the shut-down approach was needed in every part of the field.
“That’s probably one of their big improvement areas that they’ve had,” Toovey said.
“They’ve always had key targets with (Lance Franklin) and (Jarryd) Roughead there, they’re able to take marks and kick goals.
“But now on the ground as well they’re equally as dangerous.
“The blokes that were probably seen as the lesser lights of their team maybe a year or two ago have really improved and now they’re really important parts of their team.
“It’s almost like they don’t have many weak links at all so that’s probably why team defence is going to be so much more important.”