The Butler did it: Collingwood back in business

IS COLLINGWOOD a contender? Seven rounds into the AFL Women’s season and it is a poignant question. The Pies’ best is clearly good enough, and with wins over Brisbane, Essendon and Carlton in the past three weeks, the black and white army is surging with belief again.

It was a very different story back in Round 4, when the Magpies conceded five last quarter goals against the Saints in one of the worst terms that Collingwood has produced under Steve Symonds. At that stage the Saints were winless and the Magpies were 20 points up at quarter time. A horror 20 minutes later and both sets of fans were left shellshocked.

At that stage, the Magpies had slumped to a 1-3 record with only a home win against Fremantle propping up Collingwood from the bottom four teams. Going down to Gold Coast – the Suns’ first win in Melbourne against a Victorian team – then the defeat at the hands of the Saints, and Collingwood’s season was quickly slipping away.

Yet fast forward three weeks, and Collingwood has not only evened the ledger, but nudged ahead at 4-3, and entered the top eight for the first time this season. So the question remains, are the Magpies a contender or pretender?

It is easy to forget the Magpies’ greatest strength last season – their defence – was missing Lauren Butler for the first four weeks, and are yet to see Ruby Schleicher in Season 8. Though Collingwood’s midfield is strong with plenty of inside ball-winners – see Brianna Davey, Mikala Cann and Brittany Bonnici – the defence was a little shaky.

It is worth noting since Butler has returned to the side, Collingwood’s defence has been stringent, having conceded just seven goals in the past three weeks. The Saints kicked that in their upset win over the Magpies alone.


The Lauren Butler effectPoints ScoredAvePoints ConcededAve
Collingwood without Lauren Butler15.14 (104)34.77.20 (62)20.7
Collingwood with Lauren Butler18.25 (133)33.325.28 (178)44.5

Focusing in on the crucial role Butler plays, the Magpies have improved out of sight since her return. While some of that might be put down to poor goalkicking – particularly on Brisbane’s behalf – there is little doubt her return is crucial for the side.

The Magpies attacking end has largely remained the same, with an average of five goals per game kicked, but conceding just over 20 points on average per match compared to the greater than seven goals in the first month, has been the difference.


Collingwood takes on three sides all vying for a finals spot in the last three rounds. Starting with its toughest assignment against Geelong this weekend, the Magpies then head to Sydney to face old friend Chloe Molloy and her Swans. They then return home for the last round of the season to host Richmond at Victoria Park.

If Collingwood pick up two or more wins, then finals will beckon for the black and white army. Three wins puts the Magpies in the frame for a top four spot, particularly with the current top four teams facing off. However the likes of Essendon and Gold Coast are in the box seat should one of them slip out.

Still, the Magpies list is consistent enough to play in the post-season series, and is fit and firing at the moment. If Collingwood can continue its current momentum through until finals, then there is no reason why the Magpies cannot be a contender.

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