Collingwood has moved into second position in the AFL behind Geelong.
As the two Grand Final favourites, the Magpies might well be wishing there was a bye before the last Saturday in September.
The Cats lost after a bye for the eighth consecutive year when beaten by Port Adelaide by 12 points on Saturday night and coach Chris Scott said after the game he wants answers to the problem.
“The performance wasn’t reflective of the way we have played during the season, so that is what we need to … have a really good look at,” Scott said.
“What we have got is a problem in the moment, post-bye.
“Hopefully we’re good enough to get the chance to have a bye going into a finals series.
“There are things we have looked at. It’s not as if we’re ignoring it – it’s a fact.
“How relevant it is to the rest of our season is another question (but) it won’t stop us being forensic in our analysis of it.”
As for Collingwood, the Bulldogs tested Nathan Buckley’s taller team, which eked out a nine-point win at Marvel Stadium.
Brodie Grundy was the key to Collingwood’s win with 25 possessions, 50 hitouts and two goals, but defender Jeremy Howe is under a cloud after exiting early in the second quarter with a calf injury.
The PIes opted to replace suspended-for-gambling Jaidyn Stephenson with key forward Ben Reid, but while pleased with Reid’s game, Buckley was far from impressed with his team’s effort.
“It’s pretty hard to judge what mix, tall or small in the forward line in particular, worked off the back of that because we just didn’t have enough footy played the way that we want to play it,” Buckley said.
“(Reid) has earned his opportunity to come in and we were happy to accommodate that and believe that we were still able to maintain our balance.
“But we didn’t get a good enough look at the type of footy that we want to play to judge that balance.”
Pray for (Alan) Richardson
Fans of the TV western Deadwood would well remember a fellow called Richardson praying to deer antlers in the town’s hotel, so don’t be surprised to see supporters of the St Kilda coach chanting with props this week.
Alan Richardson told reporters after Saturday’s 56-point home smashing by Brisbane Lions that he knows he is under the pump and he was particularly disappointed at the lack of physicality shown by his team.
The Saints have lost six of their past eight matches to be in 11th spot with a 6-7 record and, in his sixth year, Richardson accepts there will be speculation about his future if the poor results continue.
“The team’s performance absolutely affects me. I’m responsible for the team’s performance. That’s my job,” Richardson said.
“(But) I don’t get affected at all by the other stuff.
“I know people have jobs to do. People sell papers and there’s a lot of time that needs to be filled in terms of footy shows … I get all that.
“But my responsibility is to make sure that we bounce back and address the issues … That’s all I worry about.”
The Saints play Richmond at Marvel Stadium next week. Get the antlers out.
Nic Nat is back … for good
Nic Naitanui is back for the Eagles, and he is staying.
The 29-year-old ruckman has signed a three-year contract extension and now expects to be a one-club player.
He has played 161 games for the Eagles since his 2009 debut, but sadly missed last year’s premiership because of the knee reconstruction after the Round 17 win over Collingwood.
Naitanui hopes to return to the AFL against Hawthorn at the MCG next week after playing more than 60 minutes of West Coast’s 72-point WAFL win over East Fremantle.
He finished with 10 disposals, 25 hitouts, four tackles and three marks.
“My management team has been negotiating the contract extension behind the scenes while I have been entirely focused on my return,” he told the club website.
“The club has been very good to me throughout my career and I’m looking forward to playing my part in the second half of the season and in the coming years.”