AAP AFL

Magpies still looking for best 22: Buckley

By AAP Newswire

Nathan Buckley will spend the mid-season bye pondering Collingwood's best 22 and areas for improvement, adamant the best is yet to come for his in-form side.

The Magpies climbed to outright second on the AFL ladder after defeating Melbourne 15.8 (98) to 7.15 (57) in the Queen's Birthday clash at the MCG.

On a weekend where premiership contenders West Coast, GWS and Richmond all had setbacks, the Pies seized their opportunity to claim a four-point buffer over the third-placed Giants.

But while Collingwood will head into their bye deserving to be considered top seeds along with ladder-leaders Geelong, Buckley believes there's plenty of improvement ahead.

"We think that we've played some good footy this year but it just hasn't been as consistent," the Magpies coach said.

"We've probably relied on what the opposition are doing, and even tonight, at times in that second half, Melbourne had quite a few shots on goal and the margin didn't reduce as much as it might have (if they converted their chances).

"It's a tough comp. If we compare ourselves against where we think we should be, we've still got some work to do."

Buckley noted the Pies were "smacked" by Melbourne in the contested possession and clearance battles, forcing them to rely on their superior ball use and conversion.

The Magpies could welcome back Taylor Adams (groin) and Jamie Elliott (hamstring) for their clash with the Western Bulldogs on June 23.

Young Magpie Brayden Sier (23 disposals, nine tackles) impressed in his first game since last year's grand final, although Mason Cox, recalled at the expense of Ben Reid, was quiet.

"Reidy was really good going back yesterday and his attitude's been huge," Buckley said.

"We're far from a settled 22. We don't know what our best 22 is.

"We're still exploring and still looking for better and for our best. Our players understand that (and) they're going to give everything of themselves to be in it."