Collingwood sit inside the AFL Top 8 after three key wins on the trot, but are still underdogs to remain there come season’s end. Are they the value option?

It’s been a big three weeks for Collingwood.

Heading into an away clash against high-flying Fremantle in Round 10 (which they started as $3.62 outsiders), Craig McRae’s men were lengthening in their 2022 finals tilt, out to $4.50 Top 8 hopes with Palmerbet. But something has clearly clicked that day. A commanding victory in the west, followed by a rousing win over arch rivals Carlton in front of over 80,000 at the MCG, followed by a clutch victory over the Hawks has them right back in the frame in 2022. But despite a game sitting inside the AFL Top 8, the Pies are still $3.10 outsiders to finish there this season. So, are they the value option among the mid-ladder logjam?

Style shift brings rewards

The change in playing style under McRae, when compared with former coach Nathan Buckley, has been stark. The new coach’s aggressive, arguably more entertaining approach has seemingly re-energised a side that became stagnant under Buckley’s kick-mark philosophy. Not that that style was always poor; Buckley did, after all, lead them to within a kick of AFL Grand Final success in 2018. But the time had come for change. And change they have. “At times, it felt like we were going too slow [last year],” experienced midfielder Taylor Adams said last week. “But we played in a grand final in ’18 and a preliminary in ’19, and it worked. Footy evolves and changes.”

Endorsement from Bucks

Speaking of Buckley, the former coach is all in on the Pies’ current form. Not one to be sour about his exit from Collingwood in 2021, the club legend believes his former side is on the right path. “They’ll play finals this year off the back of their form, off the back of the type of football that they’re playing,” he said this week on SEN Radio. “Outside of that loss to West Coast, which is nearly unfathomable when you look back on it, their form’s been relatively consistent.” Almost all consider it a couple of years too early to compete for the AFL premiership, however. The Pies are $41 outsiders for the ultimate glory in 2022.

This week

Queens Birthday Monday is always a big clash at the MCG, but this one perhaps takes on more importance given the form of both clubs leading in. With the Pies riding high, they may just sniff an upset in front of what is expected to be a huge crowd. The Dees, by contrast, have conceded two games in a row after a 17-game AFL winning streak. And while they start this one as $1.43 favourites, a creeping anxiety may just become even bigger if they don’t start well. The Pies start as $2.85 outsiders, but they have a brilliant recent record against Melbourne.