Scott Pendlebury was left wondering what went wrong after Collingwood’s last-quarter fadeout in the AFL grand final.
No one could blame the midfielder for the 38-point loss to Geelong as he capped a great season with another starring performance.
He had a game-high 33 possessions, 10 clearances and seven tackles.
But after three quarters of hard grind, Collingwood were split apart in the final term.
Crucially, Pendlebury and the other Magpies onballers could not contain the damage as Geelong took control of the centre clearances.
“That last quarter, we went in confident, we’d run over Hawthorn last week,” Pendlebury said.
“Obviously I don’t know what happened, because I was in it and we were just trying to do everything we could to peg it back.
“But they just ran away – it’s going to hurt.”
Pendlebury said he felt “flat” after the match.
“You don’t prepare to lose and … I know it’s going to get worse,” he said.
“It’s going to sit in our guts all summer until hopefully we get another crack at it.”
Pendlebury made his AFL debut in 2006 and Mick Malthouse has been his only coach.
A big challenge for Pendlebury and his team-mates will be adjusting quickly to Nathan Buckley as their new coach.
Geelong have set the example, stunning the rest of the league by rallying superbly under first-year coach Chris Scott to win the flag.
Pendlebury said the first he knew that Malthouse would leave the club was when the coach told the team after the final siren.
He added the speculation about Malthouse’s future beyond this year had no effect on their grand final performance.
“He was really good, he thanked everyone,” Pendlebury said.
“It was first we knew of it and, to his credit, he never let it show to any of the playing group.
“He got us all up and about and we were ready to go … we didn’t contemplate that we were going to lose.”