COLLINGWOOD was too focused on a potential top-two spot when it lost to Adelaide last week, star forward Chloe Molloy says.
The Pies needed to win to guarantee itself a week off and home preliminary final, but the resultant 14-point loss means the team faces North Melbourne in a sudden-death final on Saturday.
"We came back in the fourth quarter, but I think we're already too focused on the top-two spot rather than just winning the game and letting the outcomes sort themselves out," Molloy told womens.afl.
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"We're pretty bummed about it, no one likes to lose. Adelaide were quite unknown, we've only played them twice in the whole AFLW (2017 and 2018), and the last time was my first year of footy.
"The fall out of it is we want to get better. It was a bit of a reality check, it's fair to say, coming into finals. They're a finals team for a reason, they've got two premierships to their name and they're a well-drilled side.
"It showed where we're at and what we need to work on and they bought the pressure and the heat, and we didn't match that in the first part of the game. You always take learnings out of games, and that'll be the one we learn the most from. It's not a bad thing to have going into finals."
Collingwood had been cruising in the first two thirds of the season but has had two late stumbles – the Adelaide affair and losing a close match to other preliminary finalist Brisbane.
"I think both teams came out with their intentions set early. Both put a heap of pressure on us from the first centre bounce and that's normally something we do to other teams," Molloy said.
"Brisbane, I think they had a bit of fire in their bellies after their game was moved from Queensland, and then going to Adelaide and having to travel over there – home advantage, they wanted to come out and make a statement.
"And everyone wants to beat Collingwood, we're just not a well-liked side, but that's a good thing and I love that."
Collingwood and North Melbourne have been building a nice little rivalry in the past few years.
The Roos raided the Pies ahead of their entry to the competition, bringing across Jasmine Garner, Jess Duffin and Emma King, and subsequently pipped Collingwood by two points in a tough semi-final last year.
Over the off-season, North Melbourne opted to let coach Scott Gowans go as the club reshuffled in response to COVID-19-driven cuts, with the mentor finding his way to Collingwood as a senior assistant coach.
Most recently, Collingwood dominated the Roos in a poor match at Marvel Stadium in round four, controlling the outside ball and holding North to eight behinds.
"One thing I take from it – I know we kept them goalless, but I don't think much about that, because they had the same scoring shots as we did, they just weren't accurate," Molloy said.
"Yes, that came down to our pressure, but a team like North Melbourne don't get beat like that then turn around and let you do the same thing again.
"I don't think North are overly happy with the way they played against us. If I was in their shoes, I'd be coming out and pretty hot-headed and ready to beat us, especially after being held goalless."
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