AFL: Collingwood coach Craig McRae didn’t see Scott Pendlebury clash in Brisbane

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Collingwood coach Craig McRae said the Magpies went to the Gabba intent on making a “statement” after their poor start to the season.

Only an off-the-ball incident involving former captain Scott Pendlebury appearing to strike Brisbane gun Lachie Neale in the stomach in the third quarter soured the big win.

McRae said he didn’t see the incident and “the tribunal will take care of something if there is something there”.

Instead, McRae revelled in his team delivering on their promise in Thursday night’s grand final rematch, making what he called a “step forward” in their premiership defence.

“Clearly it was a step forward,’” McRae said after the 20-point win over the Brisbane Lions.

“Parts of our game were there to be seen but not consistently in the last three or four games, and in particular our pressure was something we wanted to raise the bar on because us at our best is a great pressure team.

“We tried to make a statement tonight in some ways or just put it right in front of the players face.

“We’ve got to pressure the opposition better than what we were. We had many times where one person was tackling on his own, and that’s not us.

“We got to work during the week on it and it was really pleasing for it to be seen.”

The Magpies led by 24 points at quarter-time but were kept scoreless in the second quarter as the Lions fought back to lead by five points at the main break.

“We were under the pump. They’re a good team and on their home deck they were always going to get a roll on,” McRae said.

“That stoppage part of the game in the second quarter they completely dominated.

“Credit to our backs, we were lucky to be in the game. I thought the damn wall would open at some stage, and we were lucky, probably, going into the break with just a small margin against us.”

McRae hailed the contribution of his senior players, particularly captain Darcy Moore, who was struggling for form entering the contest.

“I was really pleased with Darcy, leading from the front,” McRae said.

“Him and ‘Howie’ (Jeremy Howe) … just big spoils and halving contests.

“We’ve had a bit against some way in terms of the pile on but we’re a pretty proud group.

“You don’t get to see our Monday to Friday (work with) that energy and motivation for wanting to improve or not be happy with (our performances).

“We needed to get this thing moving, and it was pleasing that our best players played well tonight.”

Those best players included Nick Daicos, who starred with 30 possessions in his return to Collingwood’s halfback line.

“We moved him back there (from the midfield) to get some run and some overlap and some great ball use,” McRae said.

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