Collingwood has stamped itself as a serious AFL finals contender by inflicting a third-straight defeat on reigning premier Melbourne in a Queen’s Birthday classic.
After finishing 17th last season, the Magpies will go into the bye at 8-5 and in the top eight after posting a memorable 26-point victory in front of 76,059 fans at the MCG.
Collingwood reeled in a 20-point deficit to edge the out-of-form Demons, who were without suspended superstar Steven May following his infamous fight with teammate Jake Melksham.
Only inaccurate kicking prevented the Magpies from taking the lead earlier as Melbourne steeled itself to rebound from a horror fortnight, on and off the field.
The Demons led from early in the first quarter until Collingwood forward Brody Mihoceck nailed his third goal seven minutes into the final term.
Craig McRae’s team would never give up its advantage, winning 12.10 (82) to 8.8 (56) in one of the games of the season, booting six final-quarter goals to one.
Fans started chanting “Collingwood” in unison as Jamie Elliott put the finishing touches on the Magpies’ fourth-straight victory by slotting a goal with a minute remaining.
“Clearly playing against last year’s premiers you expect you’re going to have play four quarters,” McRae said.,
“We’re seeing that our best can be really competitive but we’re growing as well.
“I can just see our players believing. Belief can be really powerful.”
The Magpies were goal-less at quarter-time after easy missed opportunities by Jordan De Goey, Beau McCreery and Jack Ginnivan.
Maligned American Mason Cox came alive with a third-quarter for the ages to help turn the game in Collingwood’s favour.
In scenes reminiscent of his famous 2018 preliminary final performance, Cox kicked a goal on the run to earn a monster roar from the heaving pro-Magpies crowd.
Cox then grabbed two contested marks in defence to thwart damaging forward-50 entries from the Demons.
Mihoceck was the constant for Collingwood up forward, finishing with four goals in a best-on-ground display
Melbourne’s Brownlow Medal contender Clayton Oliver ran hot early, collecting 27 first-half possessions, 16 of them in the opening term, and finished with 43 to earn the Neale Daniher Trophy.
The Demons have major injury issues as captain Max Gawn spent long periods on the bench, key defender Harrison Petty was assessed following a head knock, while debutant Daniel Turner was subbed out of the match with concussion.
Gawn played out the game but was clearly sore as young gun Luke Jackson did the majority of the ruck work in the last quarter as the All-Australian was used up forward.
“The boys played with heart but when your method starts to break down, then over time, that can weigh heavily on a team,” Demons coach Simon Goodwin said.
“When you’re not in sync, and you haven’t connection right across the board, then teams will wear you down.”
Melbourne is back in action against the Brisbane Lions on a Thursday night to open round 15 while Collingwood will host Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on June 26.
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