Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has admitted that his players “lost hope” early on in their semi-final mauling at the hands of Geelong, with a number of players well below their best.
After an inspirational elimination final win in Perth against the West Coast Eagles last week, Buckley’s men showed a noticeable lack of energy right from the first bounce.
The veteran coach admitted that his players had been left “shocked” at the result, adding that the Cats had “ambushed” them to start the match despite their best preparations.
“It just looked like we couldn’t go and Geelong were a lot sharper than us. It was a comprehensive a loss that you’re going to see,” he said after the defeat.
“At some point it looked like our players had just lost their hope to get the result,” the Magpies coach said.
“Talking to various guys, was that during the second quarter, was that early in the third? There was still a lot of game to be played but hope was lost.
“We fought it out in some shape or form but even that, we’re not gonna hang our hats on that. Geelong was far too good.
“It’s fair to say our board was red from one minute into the game for the rest of the game. Contested ball, ground ball, territory, positive territory turnovers, marks.
“The only way I can comprehend a result like tonight is that we had nothing more to give.”
While Buckley admitted that he had been proud of his players’ performance throughout the season, his side was not spared by AFL great Nick Riewoldt for their dismal display.
“What it reeked to me of was a large number of Collingwood players either don’t have the mental toughness yet to work through that within a game. Or they hadn’t done enough work in that space during the week.
“Because the mental preparation side of it … you’ve gotta prepare yourself for that feeling, so when it comes, you’ve already dealt with it.”
Riewoldt’s comments came after his former coach Grant Thomas also called the Magpies out for their sluggish effort, which saw them held to their lowest score through three quarters since Round 6, 1900 against Carlton.
“They are flat,” Thomas tweeted during the contest.
“Unprepared mentally in my view. You don’t put this garbage out unless you’re mentally fried before the game starts.”