COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley says his team must learn to seize the big moments in matches as it fights to stay in touch with the top four following Saturday's loss to Hawthorn.
The Magpies enjoyed periods of momentum in Saturday's blockbuster clash at the MCG, but they were overrun in a game-shaping 10-minute period late in the third quarter, conceding four unanswered goals.
Having lost two straight games, Buckley's men sit in sixth place on the ladder with an 8-5 record, two games adrift of the second-placed Hawks, who showed a killer instinct when Saturday's game was on the line.
"We'd worked so hard as a side to be in the game and we needed every individual to understand there's those moments in games you've got to seize," Buckley said.
"Hawthorn today was the side that seized those moments and we let them go. That's the big take home for us.
“We did a lot right but there's a lot more for us to learn. We think we'll face them better next time."
Buckley spoke to his team about the Hawks' ability to gain momentum and push the ball forward when they were in control of the game.
He chose his words carefully post-match when asked about a decision to penalise captain Scott Pendlebury for a throw when replays showed a clear handball.
The decision led to a quick inside 50 and a goal to Brad Sewell, sparking the Hawks' four-goal run late in the third quarter.
"I saw the handball on the replay so my view wouldn't be positive towards that particular decision," Buckley said.
"At times it felt like we were up against it in that particular regard.
"That's the game. We didn't get the rub of the green at all today, but that happens from time to time."
Down 21 points at the final change, Buckley said he was disappointed with how his players ran out the match, with Hawthorn barely challenged as they cruised to the finish line.
"We've had consecutive six-day breaks coming up against opponents who have had eight-day breaks," he said.
"There was every reason for our run to potentially drop off, but it actually wasn’t that … it was our intent.
"We need to be better than that."
The coach praised stopper Brent Macaffer for sticking to his task on hard-running midfielder Brad Hill, who had five of his 14 possessions in the second half.
Tom Langdon, who was substituted late in the second quarter, was "dazed and confused" after the match after he was struck in the head with an accidental boot when pursuing a loose ball.