Magpies’ AFL defence crucial to attack

Ben Reid’s move into Collingwood’s attack has been a Magpie success and forward coach Matthew Lappin is counting on the club’s defenders to ensure he stays there.


The Collingwood assistant said Reid, who switched from defence mid-season, had become the AFL’s No.1-ranked player at winning one-on-one contests in attack.

Crucially, he has also made fellow Magpies tall targets Travis Cloke and Quinten Lynch more effective, contributing to Collingwood’s improved recent form.

Last round against West Coast, the three marking forwards combined for nine goals.

Lappin said when Reid was in the backline earlier in the season, former Eagle Lynch struggled to fill the deep forward role alongside Cloke that the club was seeking.

Reid, who has kicked 20 goals since round 10, has filled that role admirably.

The move has also allowed Lynch to play the position he prefers further up the ground, boosting his form and making opposition defenders focus less on Cloke.

But if opposition tall forwards dominate the Magpies at some stage during the finals, Lappin noted it could also undo Collingwood’s attacking structure.

“It can only work if Lachy Keeffe stands up the way he has down back and Nathan Brown stands up the way he has,” Lappin told AAP.

“If they didn’t defend well, then obviously there would be a need for Reidy to go back.

“But I think there was a real need for us to inject more talent into our forward line … not only talent but guys who can get the job done.

“Early in the year, when we were going to Lynchy in there, he was unable to get the job done as much as we’d like.

“That meant the players would kick to Clokey more than we’d like them to … we needed a better spread and we think we’re starting to get there now.”

Lappin said Brown and Keeffe had been holding up their end of the bargain well, but noted AFL history was littered with examples of big forwards tearing apart finals matches.

Collingwood need look back only to the 2011 grand final, when a burst of dominance by Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, opposed to Reid at the time, turned the game.

Lappin said Kangaroos tall forwards Drew Petrie, Robbie Tarrant and Aaron Black will provide an important test of Collingwood’s defence in the club’s last pre-finals tune-up at the MCG on Sunday.

The Kangaroos’ status among the AFL’s best clubs in winning contested ball and punishing opposition turnovers adds to their value as finals testing boards, Lappin said.

“Certainly the way we like to set our game up is, defensively, we want to be very strong then we want to win our share of contested ball,” he said.

“Any coach will tell you that’s what stands up in finals.

“So it’s an opportunity for us to tune up for our first final the week after.”

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