Collingwood remain in the hunt for a top-four AFL finish after consigning Melbourne to more misery with a 17-point defeat at the MCG.
Midfield leaders Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom were the key architects of Saturday’s 10.10 (70) to 7.11 (53) victory, which lifted the Magpies to fourth on the ladder.
Pendlebury finished with 23 disposals and two goals, Sidebottom gathered 28 touches and Brody Mihocek booted four majors.
Melbourne kicked the last four goals of the game but it was too little, too late.
Demons fans were again left tearing their hair out after another lacklustre, turnover-laden performance by last year’s preliminary finalists.
Adding to the Demons’ woes, Steven May suffered another hamstring injury on return from a fortnight on the sidelines.
The key defender, playing his eighth game for the season, landed awkwardly in a fourth-quarter marking contest and limped off clutching his left hamstring.
Collingwood also went a man down late in the game when Josh Daicos (concussion) was ruled out.
Simon Goodwin’s men have managed just five wins this season – all against teams in the bottom half of the table – and their latest capitulation reinforces just how far they have fallen, despite having most key players back from injury.
With Mason Cox (torn retina) having been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Pies swung Jordan Roughead to a ruck-forward role.
But Mihocek stood tall as the key man up forward, comfortably outmatching Demons opponent Jake Lever.
Neither side looked to have turned up during a scrappy opening term in which the first goal, courtesy of Melbourne’s Harrison Petty, arrived at the 25-minute mark.
The class of Christian Petracca and the Dees’ forward pressure gave them the edge early but, from the moment Pendlebury finally opened Collingwood’s account nine minutes into the second term, Melbourne were left for dead.
Pendlebury’s classy finish in traffic was the first of four-straight Collingwood majors, all stemming from Melbourne turnovers.
“I felt like we just played a really efficient brand of footy for the first three quarters,” coach Nathan Buckley said.
“We identified Melbourne’s stoppage scoring as a threat and we were able to look after for the most part.”
The Demons’ problems were manifold and often self-inflicted, beginning with the acres of space bizarrely afforded to Magpies playmaker Sidebottom – a player whose vision and creativity had long made him a target for opposition taggers.
“I thought they fought on really well (late in the game) but we’re clearly still frustrated,” Goodwin said.
“The middle patch of the game, after a really positive first quarter, was disappointing.”