Jeremy Howe celebrates a goal during Collingwood's clash against North Melbourne in round 14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

JUST when Denis Pagan and most of North Melbourne's 1999 premiership team started to enjoy themselves inside Marvel Stadium on Sunday, Collingwood flicked a switch to ruin the 25th anniversary of the Kangaroos' fourth and most recent flag in dramatic fashion.

But you had to see it to believe it. 

KANGAROOS v MAGPIES Full match coverage and stats

Collingwood recovered from 54 points down early in the third quarter to soar to third on the ladder, spoiling a day that looked like being one to remember for North Melbourne.

And the Magpies did it by the narrowest of margins to win 18.11 (119) to 19.4 (118) to record the second biggest comeback victory in their history.


Without four of its best forwards – Brody Mihocek, Dan McStay, Jamie Elliott and Mason Cox – Collingwood's small forwards fired with Bobby Hill booting five goals and taking a Virgin Australia AFL Mark of the Year contender, while recruit Lachie Schultz slotted four goals in his best outing yet in black and white.

Like so many of Craig McRae's first 65 games in charge of Collingwood, it went down to the final seconds and was full of defining moments late. Bailey Scott should have been paid a 50m penalty, while Zac Fisher's snap with six seconds left just missed after a desperate final two minutes.


Colonial Stadium was still six months away from being opened the last time North Melbourne won a flag, and 25 years on from that famous win, the Kangaroos looked set to honour that side with a stunning upset. They led for 119 minutes but weren't in front when it mattered most in one of the games of the season.

Nick Daicos overcame another week where the football world focused on his every move, recovering in time from a corked shin – and from illness late in the week – to have a major say in the game, finishing with 29 disposals, six clearances and two goals to will his weary body and weary side to victory ahead of its mid-season bye. 


Alastair Clarkson's side will be devastated. It looked on from the outset, carrying the momentum of getting its season off the mark at Optus Stadium last Saturday night. 

After kicking five goals in each of the past two games against the Magpies, Nick Larkey kicked two goals in quick succession to provide the Kangaroos with the perfect start, before adding a third after Paul Curtis got involved. By quarter-time, the 2023 All-Australian key forward had four on the board and the Kangaroos led the reigning premiers by a staggering 35 points. 

George Wardlaw was a key reason why. The AFL Rising Star contender amassed 12 touches, five score involvements and three inside 50s in the first 31 minutes to set the tone on an important day for the club. North led every key indicator by a significant margin – +51 disposals, +11 contested possessions, +10 inside 50s and +6 marks inside 50 – but the Magpies went to the break with a goal on the siren from Schultz. 


Collingwood made the better start in the second quarter. Jack Crisp and Will Hoskin-Elliott snapped a couple, before Cam Zurhaar steadied the ship with a long range set shot goal. Luke Davies-Uniacke emulated his form of last week with a dominant display at the coal face. Tristan Xerri kicked two goals that kept a challenge at bay – the first from the boundary after a dubious free kick, the second an important goal from 50m to stop the Pies' momentum. Both infuriated the Collingwood faithful who were making a rare visit to this end of the city. 

By the main break, North Melbourne had recorded its highest score of 2024 in total – 86 points – and recorded its highest first half since kicking 14.7 against the Western Bulldogs in round six, 2004. You had to see it to believe it. The Kangaroos led by 48 points courtesy of a midfield masterclass led by Davies-Uniacke, Wardlaw and Xerri. 

Zurhaar kicked the opening goal of the second half to calm the nerves of North Melbourne supporters who didn't want to believe what they were seeing. Reef McInnes was activated at the start of the third quarter, with Collingwood tactically subbing out Fin Macrae after six ineffective touches in the first half, and it got the Magpies going. 

They needed a spark and it was Schultz who ignited a side that was without seven premiership players and had seven players with under 20 games of experience, including debutant Tew Jiath. But it wasn't enough to stop North Melbourne's wave of pressure and ferocity around the contest. Two goals from Toby Pink and Curtis Taylor early in time on in the third quarter almost killed the contest. 

But it didn't.

After two red-time goals in the third quarter, the Magpies kicked five goals to start the last quarter to make it seven in a row. You can't kill Collingwood under McRae, even during an injury crisis. 


Instead of a night of celebration for North Melbourne's fourth and most recent premiership, Collingwood's recovery ensured it paid tribute to Brayden Maynard, who reached the 200-game milestone faster than anyone else from the 2014 AFL Draft and embodies why Collingwood is never out of it.

Mark of the year?
Bobby Hill might have just taken mark of the year off Jamie Elliott. The veteran Pie took a sensational grab on Anzac Day, but Hill almost hit the roof at Marvel Stadium with a spectacular mark over teammate Billy Frampton after making some room off Jackson Archer. Hill finished with five goals in a stunning display that was his best showing since his Norm Smith Medal-winning performance last September.


Top pick gets top gig
Will Phillips wasn't in the 23 that was picked on Friday. But with Jy Simpkin straining his hamstring late at training on Friday, the 2020 pick No.3 came in as a late inclusion on Sunday for just his fourth game this year and was handed the colossal task of tagging Nick Daicos. The Collingwood superstar was clamped by Melbourne's Alex Neal-Bullen on King's Birthday before being subbed out in the fourth quarter with a corked shin. Daicos battled through a challenging week and broke the tag, with Phillips subbed out at three-quarter time with Daicos up to 20 touches and two goals. Liam Shiels went to Daicos, but couldn't quell the Pie, who finished with 29 disposals, 18 contested possessions and 10 score involvements.


Remember me?
Brynn Teakle became the first player to be selected twice in the AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft last month and earned a shot at North Melbourne after just one VFL game. The former Port Adelaide ruckman spent the pre-season trialling with the Magpies before they opted for others. He played like someone with a point to prove. Teakle made an instant impact alongside Tristan Xerri in the ruck against Darcy Cameron and kicked a goal late that almost pinched victory. 


69 points - Essendon v North Melbourne, R16 2001
63 points - Hawthorn v St Kilda, R12 1999
60 points - Collingwood v St Kilda, R10 1970
56 points - Hawthorn v Geelong, R6 1989
55 points - St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, R6 2015
55 points - St Kilda v Hawthorn, R2 1937
54 points - West Coast v Geelong, R10 2006
54 points - Collingwood v North Melbourne, R14 2024
52 points - Brisbane v Geelong, R13 2013
52 points - Footscray v Essendon, R5 1978

NORTH MELBOURNE          8.1     14.2     18.2      19.4 (118)
COLLINGWOOD                  2.2      6.2     12.7     18.11 (119)

North Melbourne: Larkey 4, Zurhaar 3, Xerri 2, Sheezel 2, Curtis 2, Wardlaw, Teakle, Taylor, Scott, Pink, Phillips
Hill 5, Schultz 4, N.Daicos 2, McInnes, McCreery, Kreuger, Howe, Hoskin-Elliott, Harrison, Crisp

North Melbourne: Wardlaw, Davies-Uniacke, Xerri, Zurhaar, Scott, Larkey
Hill, N.Daicos, Crisp, Schultz, Sidebottom, Cameron

North Melbourne: Nil
Howe (nose)

North Melbourne:
Jy Simpkin (hamstring) replaced by Will Phillips

North Melbourne: Jaidyn Stephenson (replaced Will Phillips at three-quarter time)
Reef McInnes (replaced Finlay Macrae at half-time)

Crowd: 38,311 at Marvel Stadium