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Five talking points: Collingwood v Melbourne

Highlights: Collingwood v Melbourne The Magpies and Demons clash in round 23

1. Demons look to the heavens in finals prayer
Melbourne fans will be barracking hard for Adelaide on Sunday afternoon, after the Demons failed to shore up their spot in September. The equation was simple heading into the final round of the home and away season - a Dees win, and they would secure a place in the finals for the first time since 2006. The Magpies, of course, with their season already over, were out to spoil the party, and they did just that. The Demons were putrid in the opening term, laying a paltry eight tackles for the quarter and butchering the ball at every turn. The 16-point loss to Collingwood means Demons fans will need Adelaide to beat West Coast on Sunday afternoon, or at least only suffer a narrow loss. As of Saturday night, Melbourne was still in the top eight, but if the Eagles win by four goals or more and Essendon beats Fremantle, the Demons will once again find themselves out of action in September.

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2. Hamstrung Hogan
Melbourne's day went from bad to worse in the second term with star forward Jesse Hogan injuring his left hamstring at the 12-minute mark. In just his second game back following a broken collarbone, Hogan limped off the ground and went straight down into the Demons' rooms. After being assessed by medical staff, a shattered Hogan emerged several minutes later and took his place on the bench where he remained for the rest of the game. The unlucky Demon will require scans to determine the extent of the injury, but faces an uphill battle to be fit for finals, should Melbourne hold onto their place in the top eight. 


3. Last hurrah for Bucks?
Has Nathan Buckley coached his last game for Collingwood? It's the question on everyone's lips, but not one that can be answered right now. According to the Magpies, a decision has not yet been made, but Buckley made it clear publicly last week that he wants nothing more than to coach the black and white in 2018. The Pies finished the season with nine wins and a draw for the year, the same win-loss ratio as 2016, but certainly have shown some positive signs in the last two months. It was a jubilant Buckley that ran into the rooms after the victory and if his post-match reaction was anything to go by, the Collingwood coach looks like he will survive to face another year. 


4. Jack gets back to business
After two weeks working away in the VFL, Jack Watts found himself back in Melbourne's senior side on Saturday. In an opening term which provided few highlights for the Demons, Watts took the game on, crashed a pack, brought the ball to ground and kicked a centering ball in the middle of the MCG. His classy kick hit a teammate who hit drove the ball forward, with Christian Petracca finishing with the Demons' first goal of the game. Then in the final term, with the game on the line, Watts kicked a risky ball out of defence straight down the guts and it paid off, the Demons streaming through the centre of the ground with Cam Pedersen finishing off Watts' hard work at the end with a goal to put the Demons within eight points of the Pies with 10 minutes remaining. It wasn't an outstanding return by the much-maligned Demon but it was a solid showing with 18 touches, nine marks and a goal.


5. High-flying Howe strikes again
Collingwood defender Jeremy Howe has finished the season on a high, after taking yet another contender for mark of the year. The former Demon leapt onto Melbourne star Christian Petracca's shoulders in front of the MCC members early in the first term, plucking another remarkable grab. It's the second time this year Howe has taken a screamer against the Demons. Back in round 12, the 26-year-old flew high above Tom McDonald, taking a grab for the ages.