COLLINGWOOD keeps holding the challengers at bay.
>> WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
A campaign that looked to be losing its lustre a fortnight ago has suddenly been steadied with back-to-back wins, with a 24-point victory over Carlton on Sunday satisfying for a number of reasons.
The side's brave 10.12 (72) to 7.6 (48) win at the Gabba was a backs-to-the-wall performance full of heart. Without a number of key players, the Pies rose to the sizeable task laid down by the Blues.
But while the manner of the victory was certainly the most pleasing aspect of a result that will take the Pies one step closer to sealing a top-eight berth, putting a dagger in the finals hopes of their arch rivals was undoubtedly just as sweet.
PIES STARE DOWN BLUES Full match coverage and stats
Trailing by 10 points midway through the third quarter, Collingwood weathered the storm and finished with a flourish. Holding Carlton goalless for the entirety of the second half, the Pies kicked five unanswered majors of their own to coast home.
Jamie Elliott (19 disposals, eight tackles) enjoyed a standout midfield performance, but was supported admirably by Taylor Adams (23 disposals, seven clearances) and youngster Josh Daicos (21 disposals, one goal).
The win puts a crucial three-game gap between Collingwood and Carlton on the ladder, with a second-half fadeout a bitter pill to swallow for a Blues outfit that couldn't capitalise when it seemed like they were gaining the ascendency.
Sam Walsh (22 disposals, one goal) was Carlton's best. However, when the Blues had the opportunity to put the hammer down, too many of his teammates went missing.
Mustering only four behinds for the entirety of the second half, Carlton's finals chances are now up in smoke.
Cripps concern a worry for the Blues
Just moments after Patrick Cripps floored Chris Mayne with a bump that collected the Collingwood player with the point of his shoulder, the Carlton co-captain was left with an injury concern of his own. Cripps slipped, with his right knee buckling, and quickly limped from the field. While he returned to the ground later in the fourth quarter, he still looked ginger throughout in an incident that will undoubtedly leave the Blues concerned. While he's unlikely to have anything to worry about from the Match Review's perspective for his bump that left Mayne groggy, his knee injury could leave Carlton sweating.
Elliott arrives just in time
In a Collingwood midfield missing star talent including Steele Sidebottom, Adam Treloar and Jordan De Goey, the emergence of Jamie Elliott as an onballer is a welcome relief. While the former small forward has been trialled in the role for a few weeks now, Sunday was his breakthrough performance in the new position. Elliott added breakaway speed, elite pressure and enjoyed the numbers to show for his improvement. He finished with 19 disposals, nine contested possessions, eight tackles and four clearances to mark himself as the game's most influential player.
Pies square the ledger
It's one of the League's oldest and fiercest rivalries, dating back to 1897, but it's been a while since a clash between Carlton and Collingwood carried such weight. With the finals chances of both teams on the line, the Magpies squared the historical ledger between the two sides at 127 wins apiece (with four draws). None in recent memory will be as sweet though. Trailing for almost the entirety of the first half, and most of the third quarter as well, Collingwood's inspiring finish will almost certainly ensure that a home-and-away season that has ebbed and flowed will end with finals footy. The same can't be said for Carlton, who now face another post-season of pondering what could have been.
CARLTON 2.0 7.2 7.4 7.6 (48)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 5.6 6.8 10.12 (72)
Carlton: Betts 2, Curnow, Fisher, McKay, Newnes, Walsh
Collingwood: Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Mihocek 2, Cox 2, Phillips, Daicos
Carlton: Walsh, Curnow, Setterfield, Betts, Fisher, Weitering
Collingwood: Elliott, Adams, Daicos, Crisp, Maynard, Moore
Carlton: Cripps (knee)
Collingwood: Mayne (concussion)