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Sunday, April 14, 2024

McRae says Magpies’ stars too sloppy in Saints loss

“Things that are a little bit uncharacteristic to our game, but also from experienced players, so I addressed that and talked about that [after the game[.

“It’s small margins, isn’t it? It’s just slightly off. It’s just little things, little things that mean big things. We have taken great pride in the last period in doing the little things really, really well.”

St Kilda fans on Thursday night. Their Collingwood counterparts had little to cheer.

St Kilda fans on Thursday night. Their Collingwood counterparts had little to cheer.Credit: Getty

McRae said after giving players time to consider the game in silence, the issue was “firmly addressed”.

“You can see the fundamental skills that are sloppy. Rusty, clunky, just give away goals, the little things that you take great pride in. I was pointed. Let’s get busy. And let’s get busy on these things that we’re really good at.”

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He was perplexed by the poor start to the year, insisting the team were fitter than they had ever been and that they had worked on their fundamentals.

Yet Collingwood gave up 12 goals from turnovers.

McRae said a lot of fundamental errors were being made by experienced players.

A lopsided free kick count of 30 to 16 in St Kilda’s favour reflected a night when the marginal moments did not go Collingwood’s way, but it was also an indication of the sloppiness in their play.

TV footage and commentary suggested Jack Higgins’ final goal also appeared to have been kicked from outside the boundary.

Even so, McRae said the crowd also felt the uneven nature of the contest.

“That’s a big number, isn’t it?” he said, referring to the 30-16 free-kick tally. “There’s been games we get the ledger on our side, but some of that stuff is real – we are tackling too high, arms in the neck in ruck contest, coming into tackle too high.

“So again, that’s fundamentals. Our tackling percentage was 55 per cent or something – that’s a poor number. Again, we come back to the basics of the game.

“There’s a bit of footage [that shows the ball going] between three of us and it’s in the middle and [players looked at each other saying] ‘no you get it’, ‘no you get’. I’d rather have three guys get it than one waiting for you to get it. There’s a bit of hesitation instead of flow.”

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McRae acknowledged the frustration of fans that Finn Macrae was again a sub and only came on in the final term. Just as surprising was that the clever but slow Tom Mitchell was brought back into the side, while the Saints brought in two players in Jack Sinclair and Zak Jones with more leg speed.

“Finn Macrae … that’s fair – there should be some discussion around why he is not in our best 22,” said McRae. “We have just got to find out. We can wash around the edges of this, but we have got to find out. He is certainly one we want to consider.”

He added that players like Harvey Harrison would get an opportunity to add “energy, youthfulness and hunger” and he praised the games of Billy Frampton and Jamie Elliott.

Defender Isaac Quaynor said he was at a loss to identify the cause of the problems, but he remained confident the group would recover.

“There’s evidence from last year that the system works. I know it’s not last year, but I think there’s evidence there that we can be confident that, as a team, we can get it done,” he said.

“I feel for Fly as coach because it’s like the systems that we’ve got in place are working, but we’re just not executing our skill. I can’t put my finger on exactly what the issue is, but I know we’ll figure it out.

“It’s been more offensive stuff that’s been really hurting us and we’re not being predictable. And as I said, making skill errors that we usually wouldn’t do. So that’s probably the biggest thing.

“Teams are definitely bringing the heat against us and that’s something we’re going to have to continue to manage.”

BEST PLAYERS
St Kilda: Wanganeen-Milera, Windhager, Steele, Higgins, Marshall, Owens
Collingwood: Cameron, Elliott, Frampton, J Daicos

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