COLLINGWOOD produced a high-pressure masterclass in the wet and further exposed Fremantle's kryptonite in the process, giving its season a shot of life with an impressive 36-point win at Optus Stadium on Sunday.
With their early-season form a distant memory after back-to-back losses, the Magpies produced their finest win of the season to go 5-5, upsetting the fancied Dockers 12.8 (80) to 6.8 (44).
It was a win built on hard-work at the contest, relentless tackling and discipline in the slippery conditions, with Collingwood’s no-fuss style prevailing against Fremantle's overuse and refusal to adjust sufficiently to the conditions.
DOCKERS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
Midfielders Jack Crisp (28 disposals, eight clearances and seven inside 50s) was immense, with support from Taylor Adams (20 and eight tackles) and Patrick Lipinski (29 and six clearances).
Medical substitute Ollie Henry was a star after being injected into the game in the second quarter for the injured Mason Cox (finger), booting four goals and kicking accurately.
It was the work of all Magpies when they didn't have the ball, however, that was a defining feature of the win, with no passengers in the pressure stakes, laying 88 tackles to the Dockers' 61.
The win sets up a mouth-watering clash against rival Carlton at the MCG next Sunday.
For the Dockers, an immediate response will be needed to avoid a third straight loss, with reigning premier Melbourne waiting at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.
Already facing questions about how their high-skill, transition game style would hold up in the wet after last week's loss to Gold Coast, they failed to adjust sufficiently on Sunday.
The difference between the teams' approaches to the conditions was best summed up by Collingwood forward Brody Mihocek's two early goals, which came through scrapping at ground level in the goalsquare.
By handling the ball cleaner at the contest and taking the most direct route forward, the Magpies got control of the game in the second quarter, kicking 3.1 to 0.2, with Will Hoskin-Elliott and Jack Ginnivan each converting set shots to give the visitors a 17-point lead at the main break.
In contrast, Fremantle racked up uncontested ball (100-62) and marks (37-20), but repeatedly overused the ball out of defence and fumbled at critical moments.
When they did go forward, Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe were significant factors in the game, intercepting the Dockers' entries and frustrating their opponents, who were starved of opportunities in the first half.
Freo coach Justin Longmuir said at half-time his team needed to "trust the contest" forward of the ball, but the Dockers were unable to shift the momentum of the game, with Will Brodie's snap in traffic their only goal of the third quarter before the Magpies rattled home.
Super-sub cements spot
Magpies forward Ollie Henry's spot in the team was heavily debated going into round 10 after booting 0.3, and he ultimately held his place as the medical substitute. When Mason Cox suffered a finger injury in the first half Henry got his chance to prove himself and he was the forward who finished the Dockers with four second-half goals. All came from set shots, burying his demons from last week's loss to the Bulldogs which saw him miss several gettable shots. His ability to provide a strong contest forward of the ball was valuable and the performance was reward for effort.
Howe about that!
Halfway through the third quarter as the Dockers pushed forward on the wing, they ran into an aerial obstacle that would present again and again – Jeremy Howe. The defender leapt early and hung for a moment, sitting on Matt Taberner's back and pulling down a magnificent grab. It was a highlight of the match, but just another example of a Collingwood defender intercepting Freo's forward thrusts. Howe and Darcy Moore were a thorn in the Dockers' side and a big reason for the Magpies' win.
The showman strikes again
Jack Ginnivan couldn't help himself as he ran into the goalsquare to kick the goal that put the result beyond doubt. The Magpies' showman kept his feet in a contest with Brennan Cox and was left to waltz into an open goalsquare, but before thumping the ball through he pumped his fist in front of the Fremantle cheer squad and gave them an animated celebration after his work was done. It was a goal and a celebration that rubbed salt in the fresh Freo wounds.
FREMANTLE 2.2 2.4 3.6 6.8 (44)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 5.3 7.4 12.8 (80)
Fremantle: Brayshaw, Brodie, Lobb, Mundy, Switkowski, Walters
Collingwood: Henry 4, Ginnivan 2, Hoskin-Elliott 2, Mihocek 2, Cameron, Crisp
Fremantle: Brodie, Mundy, Darcy, Young
Collingwood: Crisp, Henry, Adams, Howe, Lipinski, De Goey, Cameron
Collingwood: Cox (finger)
Fremantle: Neil Erasmus (unused)
Collingwood: Ollie Henry (replaced Mason Cox)