COLLINGWOOD has once again stood up when it mattered, withstanding an outstanding Sam Reid display to defeat a dogged Sydney by seven points at the SCG on Friday night.
Reid booted six goals in an exceptional performance and was awarded the Goodes O'Loughlin Medal, while Pies skipper Scott Pendlebury delivered another vintage outing to continue what has been another fine season.
The Magpies took advantage of the absence of Swans midfield duo Josh Kennedy (left knee) and George Hewett (concussion) in the final term, stringing together their seventh-straight win, 11.14 (80) to 11.7 (73).
MAGPIES IN A THRILLER Full match coverage and stats
In the ruck, Brodie Grundy was simply excellent, putting it down the throats of his teammates time and again, with Adam Treloar (38 disposals) among the beneficiaries.
Sydney led by 10 early in the final term as they eyed off an unlikely upset, but Callum Sinclair and Will Hayward were made to rue misses after having their shots at goal set up by Reid.
Hard-working wingman Chris Mayne kicked a unique goal, volleying through a high Ben Reid pass while lying on the ground.
Then seconds later, Callum Brown put on a burst of speed to give his team a lead it wouldn't concede.
Swans defender Dane Rampe was once again involved in late controversy, giving away a 50m penalty to Mayne which meant the former Docker had a chance to retake a missed set shot, but from the goal-line.
Mayne duly converted and all but ended the contest.
That incident came only a fortnight after Rampe climbed a goal post against Essendon as David Myers lined up for a set shot which could have given the Bombers victory.
There was a sour note for the Pies. During the pre-season Magpies coach Nathan Buckley described classy but injury-plagued midfielder Daniel Wells as the "cream" on what is an outstanding list, and he showed his potency early.
The 34-year-old bagged three first-half goals but limped off after a Jackson Thurlow tackle not long after the main break.
If it's any consolation for Buckley, he's not short of options, with Jordan De Goey (shin), Darcy Moore (ankle), Mason Cox (ankle), Taylor Adams (groin) and Jamie Elliott (hamstring) all in line to return over the next few weeks.
In Swans superstar Lance Franklin's first game since round five, with a hamstring issue having kept him out, it didn't take long for the all-time great to stamp his return on the opening match of Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
Just over five minutes into the contest, the four-time Coleman medallist broke a Wells tackle and slotted one through from long-range.
However, Jordan Roughead did a superb job thereafter and kept Franklin to six disposals.
Sydney, aware of the influence Pendlebury can have, sent Hewett to the silky onballer.
It didn't work. The Pies skipper collected 29 disposals, 16 contested possessions and showed his nous to roll one through from the boundary.
One stopping job that did work though was by Ryan Clarke, who didn't allow Steele Sidebottom to touch it in the opening term and limited the 2018 Brownlow Medal runner up to 13 disposals for the match.
Sydney: Stopper George Hewett took time to recover in the third term after being crunched amid a huge pack and looked groggy as he walked off the field. Co-captain Josh Kennedy had ice applied to his sore left knee, ruling him out for the fourth quarter.
Collingwood: Rugged onballer Rupert Wills was winded after a heavy collision with Jackson Thurlow late in the second term. Smooth-mover Daniel Wells hurt his left knee in a tackle from Thurlow during the third quarter and went into the rooms. Ruckman Brodie Grundy had to leave the ground late after copping an accidental blow to the nose from Ollie Florent.
Collingwood will aim for eight in a row when it hosts Fremantle next Saturday afternoon, while in the twilight slot, Sydney will make the trip out to GMHBA Stadium to take on ladder leaders Geelong. It's a trip that holds no fears for the Swans, having won their past three games at the venue considered among the most difficult tests in footy.
SYDNEY 3.1 5.1 10.2 11.7 (73)
COLLINGWOOD 1.4 5.10 7.12 11.14 (80)
Sydney: Reid 6, Franklin 2, Fox, Papley, Blakey
Collingwood: Wells 3, Brown 2, Mayne 2, Pendlebury, Stephenson, Mihocek, Reid
Sydney: Reid, Clarke, Lloyd, Rampe, Parker, Mills
Collingwood: Pendlebury, Grundy, Crisp, Treloar, Greenwood, Mayne
Sydney: George Hewett (head knock), Josh Kennedy (knee)
Collingwood: Daniel Wells (knee)
Umpires: Margetts, O'Gorman, Nicholls
Official crowd: 34,649 at the SCG