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Injuries no excuse as Magpies seek to harden up

Craig McRae won't use Collingwood's horror injury toll as an excuse for their loss to the Western Bulldogs, or any other defeats that may come before reinforcements arrive.

On Friday night, the undermanned Magpies built a 22-point advantage early and were two goals clear at the final change, seemingly set to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches.

But they sorely missed a host of their biggest names when they were overwhelmed in the last quarter of a 15.10 (100) to 12.10 (82) defeat at Marvel Stadium.

More than one-third of last year's premiership team was sidelined, headlined by experienced stars Jordan De Goey and Scott Pendlebury.

"How do you measure that? I just look at what we can control," Collingwood coach McRae said, adding the Pies were wasteful when they booted 5.7 in the opening term.

"If you want to break the game down, I thought the first quarter we dominated and we didn't take our chances.We could've been two or three more goals up than what we were."

McRae felt the game got away as the Bulldogs took over at the contest, winning lop-sided clearance (54-38) and inside-50 (64-41) tallies despite the best efforts of Brownlow Medal favourite Nick Daicos (32 disposals, 16 clearances).

"They're the best clearance team that we've played against when you've got Bont (Marcus Bontempelli), (Tim) English and (Adam) Treloar," McRae said.

"They just accumulate and they wore us down. Maybe it was a bit too far with their talent in that part of the game late, but we'll get to work on some of those system things we can improve."

McRae said Collingwood got through the match without any further injuries and showed a sense of humour when he noted the club didn't make it through the week entirely unscathed.

"We've got no injuries for the first time in a few weeks, but our rehab co-ordinator is under so much stress, I think he got a stress fracture in his foot today," McRae laughed.

Collingwood (6-4-2) could fall out of the top eight by the end of the round, but McRae is optimistic about short-term improvement from the players he has at his disposal.

"What we are now, I guarantee we'll be different in three weeks' time," he said. "We're learning a lot and we're hardening up.

"We've got guys that in certain phases of the game aren't delivering on it, but I know they'll learn and this group won't stand still."

The Magpies have nine days to regroup before a King's Birthday clash with Melbourne.