Melbourne have dealt Collingwood’s AFL finals hopes a blow with a hard-fought 37-point win at the MCG.
With so much on the line, the Pies were desperately disappointing on Saturday in their sixth loss in a row.
The Demons, however, thoroughly deserved their 13.13 (91) to 7.12 (54) win.
Bernie Vince was outstanding for Melbourne with 30 possessions and three goals, while Jack Watts (26 disposals) and Nathan Jones (26) were also influential.
Melbourne hadn’t beaten Collingwood since 2007 and looked fragile when they were challenged late in the second and third quarters.
But their ability to regroup and hit back was what pleased Paul Roos most about the win.
“I thought that was really key today – it’s certainly been a problem for our young group,” Roos said.
“We’ve been up and down and when teams challenge us we tend to fall apart.
“This year’s been better … but we did speak about that after the game as a really positive sign.”
The Demons kicked four majors in the opening term and could have had more had they capitalised on their dominance around the ground in front of goal.
The listless Pies offered little resistance and should have trailed by more than three goals early in the second quarter.
But as has too often been the case for the Demons, their work rate fell away in the face of a resurgence led by Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury.
Collingwood edged in front when Travis Varcoe goaled halfway through the term but the Demons did well to meet the challenge, with Vince important as they led by 11 points at halftime.
Melbourne should have put the game away when they stretched their lead to 23 points but they left the door open and the Pies came charging through.
But with the game in the balance, it was the Demons who took charge.
The Pies barely competed in a final term dominated by Melbourne, who kicked four goals to none to celebrate their sixth win of the season.
“The last quarter was quite disappointing,” Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said.
“It was a grind before that, but we came up against a side that was prepared to play four quarters and evidently we weren’t.”
Dane Swan was arguably the only Magpie to put in a four-quarter effort to finish with 36 possessions, while Taylor Adams (26) and Scott Pendlebury (24) were also important.