Puzzled McRae welcomes back key Magpie jigsaw pieces

The jigsaw pieces are falling into place but Collingwood coach Craig McRae remains puzzled by his side's penchant for leaving plenty of work to do.

Comebacks have been a specialty of the McRae reign but his premiers were unable to add another to their resume on the Gold Coast on Saturday.

Down by 32 points late in the third term, the Magpies kicked six straight goals to lead by one point with four minutes remaining.

The Suns, having seen North Melbourne surrender a 54-point lead a fortnight ago, had other ideas.

A 68-50 inside-50 count eventually told, Gold Coast kicking the final two goals to win by 11 points.

McRae is proud of his side's never-say-die culture but frustrated that they continue to put themselves in tricky positions.

"It's pretty obvious ... you look at the intent, the pressure in the last quarter," he said.

"Why aren't we delivering that in the second quarter?

"You wrestle with this stuff.

"Sixty-eight inside 50s is a lot to give up; we'd struggle to win any game.

"So there's a natural emotion of, 'come on, let's get busy'."

Jordan De Goey.
Jordan De Goey impressed for the Magpies on his much-anticipated return. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

The Magpies (8-5-2) will remain inside the top eight and McRae was pleased with the returns of injured trio Jordan De Goey, Brody Mihocek and Scott Pendlebury.

De Goey started strongly then iced his 21-disposal game with a sublime second goal in the final quarter.

Pendlebury had 18 typically assured touches and a sweet long-range goal and Mihocek kicked two majors.

"We've had pieces of our jigsaw puzzle playing different parts," McRae mused.

"Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle? The corners don't go in the middle and we've had a few of those going on.

"It's good to have a few of our corners back so the other parts can be what they're normally meant to be."

Forward Beau McCreery (calf) was substituted in the third quarter, Brayden Maynard copped a nasty corked leg and John Noble missed the final stages to complete a head injury assessment.