Taylor Adams and Bobby Hill celebrate a goal during Collingwood's clash against Adelaide in round 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

THE MASTERS of the manic finish have done it again.

Collingwood hasn't had to dig in like this anywhere near as much as it did in 2022, but it dug into an old playbook on Sunday to overcome a stunning third-quarter turnaround from Adelaide to reclaim top spot on the ladder. 

MAGPIES v CROWS Full match coverage and stats

With 65,930 fans – a record home and away crowd between these two sides – turning up on a cold winter’s day at the MCG, the Magpies won a thriller by two points to extend their winning streak over the Crows to eight. 

But they had to do it the hard way in the 12.10 (82) to 11.14 (80) win.


If you've forgotten the numbers from last year, they won't be deposited too deep in your memory bank: Nine wins by single digits in 2022, including six of seven heading towards September. Two finals losses by less than a kick.

This time Collingwood had to overcome a rampaging Adelaide which had recovered from an underwhelming opening half to slot seven goals to none in the third quarter, turning a 27-point half-time deficit into a 13-point three-quarter time lead. 

With Taylor Walker and Jordan Dawson leading the Crows towards a rare win at the MCG, a rare win over Collingwood and a rare win away from the Adelaide Oval in 2023, it took a huge effort from the Magpies to flip the script in the fourth quarter. 

Everyone had moments for the Magpies – particularly late – but the Daicos brothers were momentous once again. 


Nick enhanced his Brownlow Medal chances after collecting 37 disposals, 15 contested possessions, nine clearances, nine score involvements and a crucial final-term goal, while Josh showed why he is on course for a maiden All-Australian blazer by finishing with 33 touches, six clearances and 602 metres gained. 

But it was Mason Cox who stood up in the final quarter with two calmly converted goals and a moment that incited a melee and lit the fuse to fire the Magpies home for a 12th win of the season after he made a beeline for Josh Worrell after kicking his second goal.


Adelaide made the better start with both teams emerging from the bye rusty early, but it was the Daicos show from the get-go. Without Ben Keays trailing him around like a Jayco like last time, Nick punished the Crows early, combining with Josh for 22 Daicos disposals at 100 per cent efficiency by foot in the opening quarter. 

After missing the two games before the mid-season bye due to a shoulder injury, Jamie Elliott took the first 30 minutes to regain touch, but then in the space of a few moments in the second quarter, the gun forward kicked the first two goals of the term to start the alarm bells ringing inside Matthew Nicks' coaches' box. 

The Magpies produced moments that Harlem Globetrotters would have marvelled at in the first half. Deft handballs, taps and even a scoop off the ground off the foot of Nick Daicos found Bobby Hill, who tucked the ball under his arm, bounced three times, handballed to a free Elliott inside 50 who kicked towards Ash Johnson and Hill crumbed to snap the goal of the day. 


When Tom Mitchell was handed a dubious 50m penalty, Collingwood had six goals in a row to open up a 27-point lead by half-time. Adelaide had plenty of looks forward of centre, but the difference was in the composure. The Crows couldn't pierce a defence patrolled by Darcy Moore, Jeremy Howe and co. 

Yet just when Adelaide looked like remaining winless at the MCG for another visit – it hasn't won at the ground since 2017 – the Crows flicked a switch like they have done often in 2023. They kicked all seven goals of the third quarter to breathe life into a cold Melbourne day. 

In the space of 30 minutes, Collingwood's 27-point half-time lead had become a 13-point deficit as the Crows showed why they are in the hunt for a return to September for the first time since the 2017 Grand Final heartache. 


Harvey Harrison ended the rout by kicking the first goal of the fourth quarter to reduce the margin to single digits. But Walker got the instant reply. Enter Cox. The American is never afraid to push the envelope when it comes to letting the opposition know he is making an impact. The goggles went flying and intensity went through the roof. 

But the game wasn't over yet. Walker kicked a fifth goal to move one clear of Charlie Curnow in the Coleman Medal race, yet despite a ferocious finish from the Crows, Collingwood held on in another epic finish at the MCG.


Howe good
After four bouts of surgery and four months on the sidelines, Jeremy Howe returned from the horrific arm injury that threatened to end his season when he was carted off the MCG in round one. Howe didn't look like someone who had only played half a game before round 15. The Magpies faithful erupted at the six-minute mark of the first quarter when he collected the first of his 20 touches. The Tasmanian hauled in a trademark hanger in the third quarter to show his quality and class.  

Crows' third-quarter blitz
Collingwood looked in control at half-time. Adelaide looked set for a week of questions around its finals credentials. Things changed in the space of 30 minutes. The Crows kicked 7.1 to 0.3 to turn a 27-point half-time deficit into a 13-point lead at three-quarter time. Taylor Walker kicked three goals, while Ned McHenry amassed nine disposals after entering the game as the sub at the start of the half. Collingwood's backline had rarely been tested like that in 2023, but suddenly looked vulnerable every time Adelaide swept forward. 

Dawson's milestone masterclass
We shouldn't be surprised anymore - Jordan Dawson has emerged as one of the best captains in the competition in 2023. To think he has only been at West Lakes for less than two years is remarkable, and there is no wonder they appointed him skipper after just a season at the club. In his 100th game on Sunday, the South Australian produced one of his best performances yet, amassing a career-high 35 disposals, 12 tackles, 10 inside 50s, 665 metres gained, and nine score involvements. Take a bow.


COLLINGWOOD          2.4     7.5     7.8      12.10 (82)
ADELAIDE                   1.5     2.8     9.9     11.14 (80)

Collingwood: Elliott 2, Cox 2, Mitchell, Johnson, Hoskin-Elliott, Hill, Harrison, N.Daicos, J.Daicos, Adams
Walker 5, Thilthorpe, Soligo, Rankine, Pedlar, Murphy, Fogarty

Collingwood: N.Daicos, J.Daicos, Mitchell, Pendlebury, Quaynor, Howe, Maynard
Dawson, Walker, Keays, Hinge, Laird, Jones

Collingwood: Nil
Murray (hamstring), Thilthorpe (ankle)

Collingwood: Beau McCreery (replaced Ash Johnson at three-quarter time)
Ned McHenry (replaced Nick Murray at half-time)

Crowd: 65,930 at the MCG