Grundy was on the bench.
“Centre bounce goals are the quickest way to cut margins and we gave up five of them for the night,” Buckley said.
“We had a few different strategies, but when you have a weapon like Nic in the middle, it’s a little bit difficult to defend. For the most part we made it difficult, but they were still able to get that score on the board quickly and level up at times. We had to win it a couple of times.
“We wanted Darcy and Brodie to share the load. We wanted to keep Mason [Cox] forward as much as possible, and we also thought Nic was going to be a handful, and he proved to be.
“Darcy was good in that role.
“We thought Darcy Cameron, his contest in the ruck is good. He’s a natural ruckman. He was good. In in-field play, he was able to get down the line and help us aerially.”
The Magpies head back to their Queensland hub to prepare for a semi-final clash with Geelong at the Gabba on Saturday night full of belief.
“A one-point win in one of the toughest places in AFL footy, at Optus Stadium, against the odds. It’s the best win I have been a part of,” Cameron said.
“We do gain some confidence from it. Now we know we can knock off the Eagles at home, the hardest job in AFL footy. We can take on anyone.
“And Bucks said to us after the game that he thought we still have room to improve and that this game [against the Eagles] is just one of four games left for us.
“The task at hand is to remain focussed. But we know we can still improve on that.”
Cameron was not the only Pie playing in his first final – Isaac Quaynor, Josh Daicos and Jack Magden were also finals debutants.
“That was unreal; pretty special for first final in AFL footy,” Cameron said.
Buckley said he was impressed with how the quartet handled the added pressure of finals.
He said that apart from the two players omitted from the team that lost to Port Adelaide by 16 points in round 18 – Travis Varcoe and Tyler Brown – Tom Phillips is the only player pushing for selection from the injury list.
Phillips, a member of the losing 2018 grand final side, is already running again, recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered in round 15 against Brisbane.
This season has been very different, for everyone, but Cameron says Saturday’s win has made it all worth the sacrifices.
“That win takes a lot of weight off our shoulders. It’s all been worth it,” he said. “We have got to where we want and know the next steps. And there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
“We have no issue having to head back to Brisbane. We have played at the Gabba plenty of times this season [for a 3-4 record].
Veteran Eagles set to play on
West Coast coach Adam Simpson said the loss hurt, but had some good news for Eagles fans looking to the future. Veterans Kennedy and Shannon Hurn are likely to play on next season.
Simpson said he thought both Hurn and Kennedy had done enough to warrant contract extensions.
The pair, both 33, should be offered a contract for the 2021 season within the next few weeks.
Simpson said he knew his side needed to improve and believed that the current group could achieve that.
“We want sustained success. We want growth of our kids and to bring in talent. We want all of those things.
“We want to win.
“We still have hope for our young guys coming through and think our senior players are holding up their end of the bargain.
“We still think there is growth in our list and will go through the draft if we have to.
“We have to get better, because we weren’t good enough this year.”
There was an injury cloud hanging over Kennedy going into the game against the Magpies, but despite carrying a sore ankle, he kicked 3.4, taking his tally for the season to 34.22 in 17 games.
“They were pretty good tonight; didn’t look too old tonight,” Simpson said.
“JK played with a bit of an ankle and Shannon really stood up for us. It’s sensitive when you start talking about legends of our club.
“I think both of those guys have more than done enough to look to next year. We have to talk to them and see what they want to do.”
But Simpson said he feared quality staff would be forced to leave the game due to changes to the cap on spending on football operations.
He said the club was still working through how the football department would look in 2021.
“Now it’s working through who wants to work for less,” he said. “Who wants to go to other industries.
“We have some elite staff and football people in the industry that do it for the love of the game. We are going to miss out on some really good people. It’s something the whole industry is working through.”