Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley refused to weigh into debate about his side's top four credentials, after the Pies won five consecutive matches for the first time since 2012 by defeating Carlton at the MCG on Sunday.
The Pies finished round 14 in fourth position on percentage following the scrappy 20-point victory, with the lowly Carlton causing Collingwood's defensive set up problems throughout the afternoon.
Star midfielder Adam Treloar had a quiet day, but in better news escaped serious injury after he looked to have strained both hamstrings in the final quarter. Buckley said the fact that he only suffered cramp was due to the former GWS player's professionalism.
"We didn't set a [ladder position] goal at the beginning of the year," Buckley said. "I was asked last week whether we re-assessed them, well our goal is to play as well as we can every week.
"I think every side would like to finish as high on the ladder as they possibly can and to do that you've got to win as many games as you can … that's out goal."
Buckley also wouldn't be drawn on the fitness of the hamstrung Darcy Moore. Collingwood's latest injury update listed the swingman as being 1-2 weeks away from a return, but Fairfax Media understands that could be closer to 3-4 weeks. The same goes for the hamstrung Jamie Elliott.
Buckely said the out-of-contract Moore was "progressing well" and that he would return through the VFL in due course.
The former Pies captain also said it was a mark of Collingwod's progress – they have endured an underwhelming few seasons under Buckley – that they could win "ugly".
"[The] opposition were motivated and pretty well structured and we said leading into the game we expected more the Geelong, Sydney game [contested and defensive] than we did the Freo game [free flowing, high scoring].
"We were able to eventually wear it away and did enough right to get the win.
"We didn't control the field or the [slow] pace of the opposition ball movement as well as we would have liked … we have got some work to do on that."
After biding his time as an assistant Buckley took over as Collingwood coach in 2012. Some say Collingwood is playing as good as they during the Buckley tenure, but the coach sounds as if he will be careful to keep his side on their toes, despite their form.
"We are playing some good footy, but what we have done up to now is going to count for naught. Clearly we'd like to be a little bit more consistent on the way we go about it on today's form.
"If you don't get the chemistry right if you actually don't play well together as a side then you open yourself up a little bit, so that's the take out from today."
Young gun Jaidyn Stephenson also came in for praise from the coach, with Buckley admitting he judged the dangerous goalkicker with similar harshness as he did his two sons. Stephenson kicked three goals for the match.
"As far as the rising star and his capacity to impact as a first year player there's not many guys that are going to be able to do what he is doing.
"Above all that we love the fact he plays his role in our structure … his speed in defence is crucial."
Anthony Colangelo is a sports and breaking news reporter at The Age
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