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Magpies brace for Cats' best in AFL clash
By Greg Buckle
17:03 AEST Fri Jul 13 2012

Collingwood's players are still hurting from last year's AFL grand-final loss to Geelong, although Magpies' forward Jarryd Blair is trying not to dwell on it.

The Magpies (11-3) have already beaten the Cats (9-5) once this season, in round eight, when Scott Pendlebury contributed 30 disposals and four goals in Collingwood's 12-point victory.

Pendlebury returns to centre stage on Saturday night at the MCG after suffering a fractured tibia on June 3 against Gold Coast.

"There is a rivalry there and it's something the players do look at a little bit when you go into a game," Blair said on Friday.

"You take a little bit out of things like that.

"To lose a grand final, it's disappointing but it's not something that you think about too much. You take what you need out of it and you move on."

Club champion Pendlebury's return is just the boost the Magpies need after last week's upset 23-point loss to Carlton.

"With a player of his calibre to come back into the side, it definitely does give everyone a little bit more confidence," 2010 premiership player Blair said.

"He's a proven performer and he always plays well against Geelong."

Collingwood's tally of 8.14 (62) last week was their equal-lowest score of the season.

Dale Thomas (bruised foot) has been passed fit while Pendlebury, Nathan Brown and Chris Tarrant come into the side.

Tarrant, a former All-Australian forward who had a fine season in defence in 2011, has played only two senior games this year.

The Magpies might call on the 193cm utility in a bid to lift their scoring, especially with key forward Chris Dawes' output of seven goals in 13 games.

"He has proven himself to be able to kick a few goals down there," Blair said of Tarrant, who has overcome shoulder soreness.

"It would be pretty exciting if he did go down there. A lot of Magpies' supporters would love to see him back forward and maybe take a few big grabs."

The Cats named debutants Josh Walker and Jackson Sheringham while premiership trio Steve Johnson, Harry Taylor and Mitch Duncan return to the side.

Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel is suspended and David Wojcinksi has a hamstring injury.

Geelong's tally of debutants in 2012 rises to 10 with the inclusions of 24-year-old Sheringham and 19-year-old ruck/forward Walker, the grandson of 1963 premiership player Peter Walker.

Geelong struggled to beat bottom side Gold Coast by 14 points last week.

Blair said the Magpies weren't falling for media speculation that 2007/09/11 premiers Geelong were rebuilding and no longer premiership contenders.

"We always expect that when we play Geelong it's going to be a tough, pretty tight game," the Wonthaggi product said.

Blair, a lively 174cm forward who averages 4.6 tackles and 0.9 goals per game, will play his 50th match.

Collingwood will also celebrate the milestones of Harry O'Brien (150) and Alan Toovey (100).

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