After consecutive defeats to clubs outside the AFL top eight, is Collingwood’s recent woes becoming more than just a hiccup?

A fortnight ago, despite beating the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley savaged his side’s performance. Buckley said the nine-point win was “the worst we’ve played for a long time” and criticised the effort of his troops. Some said the comments were a bit harsh, considering they had notched their ninth win in 10 games. But it would prove a taste of what was to come. In the two games since that clash, the Pies have lost to both North Melbourne and Hawthorn – clubs that are both outside the AFL top eight. The considerable dip in form has seen them drop from $3.75 second-favourites for the flag, now out to $7 with Palmerbet.

So, are they still premiership hopes?

Double chance under threat

The sheer number of wins accumulated by the Pies (currently in third place at 10-5) in the first half of the season leaves them still with a strong chance of finishing in the top four. And as decades of finals footy attests to, the vast majority of AFL premiership sides finish in the top four. But with GWS and Richmond (fifth and sixth respectively) circling, Collingwood’s once handy buffer no longer exists. Before the loss to North Melbourne, the Pies were an almost-certain $1.10 to finish in the top four with Palmerbet. But recent wobbles has now seen them out to $1.70.

Tough road ahead

Unfortunately for Buckley, the fixturing gods have given Collingwood no respite in the coming weeks. They travel to Perth on Thursday for a Friday night clash against perhaps the AFL’s most in-form side in West Coast. Adam Simpson’s Eagles outfit have beaten the black and white on the last four occasions, including last year’s grand final. And given they’re coming off a breathtaking 91-point win in last week’s derby, they start as solid $1.40 favourites. Collingwood are currently $2.98.

And that’s not it. The aforementioned GWS and Richmond, both yapping at the heels of the Pies on the AFL ladder, face off against Buckley’s boys in the next two weeks. There’s a distinct possibility that, should Collingwood not pick itself up off the floor quick smart, they’re back towards the bottom of the top eight.

Lions the new upstarts?

Last year it was the young Pies that stunned the competition at this time of the year. From rounds 9-16 the Pies won seven on the bounce, by an average of 34 points a game. There was an enormous amount of positivity emanating from the club, as even outside fans began to warm to the AFL’s traditionally most-hated club.

But could this year’s version of Collingwood 2018 be the Lions? Most footy fans knew the Lions were on the rise, but only some would have picked them for them to finish in the top eight this AFL season. Another year getting games into the kids and 2020 could be their year, or so the footy world thought. But all of a sudden, after a brilliant month was capped off with a win over the Giants on Sunday, they’re genuine top four contenders at $2.10 with Palmerbet.