COLLINGWOOD survived the best football West Coast has played this season and countered to bank an impressive 63-point win at Optus Stadium, but the ladder leaders will head home with injuries and a looming suspension to ponder.
After their lead was cut to just 14 points late in the third quarter, the Magpies rattled home with nine of the last 10 goals to win 18.12 (120) to 8.9 (57) and extend their winning run to eight games.
EAGLES v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats
But their win was soured by Jordan De Goey's high bump on West Coast draftee Elijah Hewett, which has the Magpie destined for a likely Tribunal hearing next week ahead of the King's Birthday blockbuster against Melbourne.
The victors were also left nursing injuries to Beau McCreery (foot), Will Hoskin-Elliott (ankle) and Ash Johnson (corked leg) in a physical clash that went to another level after De Goey's high hit.
A team that has become used to in-game injuries this season, West Coast was itself forced to push on with Shannon Hurn (hamstring), Connor West (knee) and Hewett (head knock) all on the sidelines after the first quarter.
With their backs to the wall, they produced two quarters of their best, pushing the Magpies and for a moment looking capable of arguably the biggest upset this season.
They kicked six out of seven goals either side of half time and could have cut the margin to just nine points if senior midfielder Andrew Gaff had converted his set shot 30m from goal.
It proved a costly miss as the Magpies gathered themselves and finished in a rush, kicking six unanswered goals in the final quarter to consign the Eagles to a club-record 10th consecutive defeat.
Brownlow Medal favourite Nick Daicos was superb for the Magpies and likely scooped another three votes after finishing with 30 disposals and three goals, including two in the final quarter.
Having moved into the midfield more prominently in recent weeks, he faced stiff competition from a determined group of West Coast midfielders that gave their team a significant clearance advantage (43-33).
The Eagles also did what few teams have been able to do against the Magpies and beat them to the contested ball, winning that indicator 132-124 as Dom Sheed (43 disposals and 10 clearances), Tim Kelly (29 and nine) and Elliot Yeo (26 and seven) did all they could.
Young ruckman Bailey Williams also continued his emergence with 16 disposals and 21 hitouts, while leaders Liam Duggan (33 and six inside 50s) and Oscar Allen (three goals) impressed.
It was not enough to get past a brilliant Collingwood team, however, which respected what the Eagles could do and got the job done.
A price to pay for Pies star
De Goey looks destined for the Tribunal next week after his high bump resulted in Hewett being removed from the game with concussion. A grading of careless conduct, high contact and severe impact would result in at least a three-match ban, which has ramifications for De Goey. The star midfielder has enjoyed a brilliant season that had him sitting fourth in the AFL Coaches' Association Award before round 12 and in contention for All-Australian honours for the first time. While Nick Daicos is favourite for the Brownlow Medal, De Goey's form demanded attention there as well, but his eligibility now appears in significant doubt.
In-game injuries continue for Eagles
It was the round three loss to Fremantle that sparked West Coast's 2023 injury crisis, and just as players were starting to return, another round of setbacks hit. The Eagles showed incredible resilience in that early-season Derby, and they did likewise on Saturday after losing West, Hurn and Hewett in the first quarter. The Eagles, who have picked from as few as 25 fit players at stages this season, had 13 players on their official injury list this week. Luke Shuey (ankle/hamstring) could return against Adelaide in round 13, but it feels like one step forward, two steps back on the availability front at the moment.
Milestone man a familiar foe for Magpies
It was fitting that premiership midfielder Dom Sheed played his 150th game against the team he sunk in the 2018 Grand Final, and the 28-year-old looked intent on doing similar on Saturday. Sheed's 43 disposals was an equal career-high, while his 10 clearances was one short of his best mark across 10 seasons. His performance, and the extra level that Yeo and Kelly went to alongside him, highlighted just how much the Eagles have missed their senior midfielders this season.
WEST COAST 0.3 4.3 8.7 8.9 (57)
COLLINGWOOD 4.3 8.5 12.9 18.12 (120)
West Coast: Allen 3, Clark, Kelly, Long, O'Neill, Sheed
Collingwood: Daicos 3, Hill 3, Johnson 3, Mihocek 3, Cox 2, Adams, Crisp, Harrison, Mitchell
West Coast: Sheed, Kelly, Yeo, Allen, Duggan, Williams
Collingwood: N Daicos, Mihocek, Hill, Adams, Mitchell, Cameron, Johnson
West Coast: Hewett (head knock), Hurn (hamstring), West (knee)
Collingwood: McCreery (foot), Hoskin-Elliott (ankle), Johnson (corked leg)
West Coast: Tom Barrass (hip) replaced by Elijah Hewett
West Coast: Greg Clark (replaced Connor West in the first quarter)
Collingwood: Oleg Markov (replaced Beau McCreery in the third quarter)
Crowd: 41,713 at Optus Stadium