Magpies ready for SCG prelim battle: Howe

·2-min read

Collingwood feel ready for the unique challenges of playing on the SCG after Craig McRae admitted coaching poorly in their last match at the venue.

The Magpies have marked out their training ground at the AIA Centre to better equip themselves for playing at the Sydney Swans' home arena.

Star defender Jeremy Howe believes coach McRae critiqued himself too harshly following the round 20 clash but thinks Collingwood learned plenty from the 27-point defeat to use ahead of this Saturday's preliminary final against the Swans.

"He's probably taking a little bit of responsibility there," Howe told reporters on Tuesday.

"We certainly felt as players well-prepped going into that game. We've just made a small couple of shifts going into this game.

"Early on in the last time we played, we felt like we got stuck on the boundary line a lot and it exposed us in the middle of the ground.

"It's just getting used to the feel of the dimensions and the way we want to use the ball and also defend."

First-year coach McRae gave a frank admission on Monday night when reflecting on Collingwood's last trip to the harbour city.

"I believe in setting the players up for certain things, to hopefully make them successful in what we're doing, and I felt that I failed in that," he told Fox Footy.

"I told the players (on Monday) we'll be better prepared for things like the shape of the ground so we can train on it and be prepared for that.

"It's nothing major, I'm just taking accountability for something I think I can do better."

Howe said Collingwood had improved since their stunning 11-game win-streak suddenly put them in premiership contention, after they finished 17th last season.

The Magpies fell agonisingly short in a six point loss to minor premiers Geelong in the qualifying final, before comfortably taking care of Fremantle by 20 points in Saturday night's semi-final.

"I feel like our last two weeks, especially, have really set ourselves up," Howe said.

"I think the game against Geelong was one of our best games, even though we didn't get the result.

"We took a lot of positivity out of that week, the way we reviewed it really strongly, had a positive vibe to it and took that into Fremantle."

The Swans and Collingwood last met in a final in 2012, when the Swans shrugged off the Magpies at Sydney's Olympic Stadium to win through to the decider.

Saturday's match will be the first preliminary final at the SCG since Tony Lockett's famous after-the-siren point against Essendon in 1996 sent the Swans into a grand final.

Collingwood's last grand final appearance was in 2018, when they lost to West Coast by five points, while the Swans went down to the Western Bulldogs in the 2016 decider.