Steele Sidebottom
Steele Sidebottom

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his team head into their blockbuster preliminary final clash against Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Friday night with a 'great deal of confidence' given the Magpies' recent domination of the Swans and the venue in question.

Collingwood have won their last 11 matches against Sydney, with seven of those victories coming at the Olympic stadium, in a streak that goes back six seasons.

The Magpies' most recent triumph against the Swans at ANZ Stadium came in Round 20 this year but Buckley warned his charges would have an enormous fight on their hands to qualify for the grand final for the third year in a row.

"The past is the past," Buckley said after his men defeated West Coast by 13 points in a classic semi-final encounter at the MCG on Saturday night.

"Every game we've played against Sydney we've had to dig in, we've had to work hard, they're a fantastic team on the inside (and) on the outside.

"We need to earn the right to get the game on our terms every time we've played them and next week will be no exception."

The Eagles got out of the blocks quickly on Saturday night with the first four goals of the match and Buckley said it was a 'fantastic' performance by Collingwood to overcome their slow start and record a memorable win.

"The players stuck to the task and were able to withstand the onslaught early and just ground out a pretty impressive win," Buckley said.

"I think we've been building to this kind of performance and we still feel that there's some upside in us."

Buckley also praised his defenders' ability to nullify the impact of West Coast's key forwards Jack Darling, Josh Kennedy and Quinten Lynch with suspended skipper Nick Maxwell out of the Collingwood line-up.

"I thought they were huge, I'm loath to individualise but we had seven or eight guys who went through that back six and to a man they played their role very well," Buckley said.

"To only allow nine scoring shots in the last three quarters of the game after giving some five goals (and) one (behind) in that first quarter was a fantastic defensive effort."

Dale Thomas was also a key contributor with three goals at the start of the third quarter to turn the game on its head and Buckley praised the star midfielder's ability to produce arguably his best game of the season in the club's most important match to date.

"Dale's been scrutinised and criticised fairly heavily over the last period of time in particular," Buckley said.

"(He is) the type of guy that loves the big stage and has always played well in finals and finds his best ... sometimes it's not where you start (the season), it's where you finish."

The victory was soured by Alan Didak (calf) and Chris Dawes (knee) picking up injuries and both would have to be in some doubt to line up against Sydney.

West Coast coach John Worsfold lamented his side's inability to take their chances when the game was up for grabs midway through the final quarter and believed they lacked polish in the clinches.

"(We) probably (needed to be) a little bit cleaner at stoppages," Worsfold said.

"Opportunities to get out and go forward we didn't really get enough of."

The Eagles mentor said this finals series reinforced how important it was to finish top four at the end of the year and admitted if his team was to earn a double chance next season, they would need more pace through the midfield.

Meanwhile, Worsfold wouldn't be drawn on whether Darren Glass would retain the captaincy in 2013.

"All those decisions are a couple of months away," he said.

Sportal

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