COLLINGWOOD is building a reputation as a master of close games in the VFL after holding out Coburg by four points in a pulsating clash at Victoria Park on Saturday.
The Magpies led by 38 points at three-quarter time of a seesawing battle and withstood a seven-goal-to-two final quarter to win an eighth consecutive game against the Lions.
After earlier edging out Werribee by seven points and Gold Coast by three, Collingwood’s three victories have been by a combined 14 points, but the win came at a cost with highly-rated youngster Reef McInnes suffering what appeared to be a serious ankle injury in the first term and Irish defender Anton Tohill (groin) also out of the game before half-time.
Coburg had a major injury concern of its own, with livewire forward Josh D’Intinosante taken to hospital with a dislocated elbow.
Collingwood dominated the first quarter but only led by 22 points as the scoreless Lions mixed desperate defence with ill-discipline, keeping the Magpies to just one goal in general play but conceding two from 50-metre penalties to Campbell Hustwaite.
Handed some home truths by coach Andrew Sturgess, Coburg roared to life with five unanswered goals to lead by 13 points in the shadows of half-time as Tom Silvestro (20 disposals, one goal) ran rampant on a wing, Lochie Dickson (23), Luke Bunker (20) and debutant Jackson Davies took control at half-back and Mitch Podhajski (two goals) got busy at half-forward.
However, another lapse in defence conceded a third 50m-penalty goal in the final minute, this time to the lively Youseph Dib, and the momentum swung again.
Collingwood exploded with five goals in the first 12 minutes of the third term as Mason Cox lifted, rookie Jack Ginnivan (three goals) got busy, midfielders Brayden Sier (27 disposals), Fin Macrae (31) and Trent Bianco (29 and a goal in his VFL debut after a knee injury) dominated, and defenders Tom Wilson (24, seven marks) and Lachie Tardrew (21, six marks) did as they pleased.
But having conceded eight goals to one and fallen well off the pace again, Coburg rallied once more.
Charlie Thompson franked his performance as the Lions’ best with three goals in the last term, Marcus Lentini racked up close to 20 disposals in the final quarter to finish with another 37, and co-captain Peter McEvoy pulled down some towering marks and kicked three more, twice putting his team within seven points with plenty of time on the clock.
But a big mark and goal from backman Jacob Booth and a rundown tackle and third major from Sam Fowler held Collingwood steady, and difficult missed chances from Thompson and Podhajski in the dying stages enabled the Magpies to hold on in a thriller and leave the Lions ruing those early lapses in discipline.
Williamstown gave Frankston a rude wake-up call with an 84-point belting at Downer Oval.
The Dolphins arrived brimming with confidence after three straight wins and kicked the first goal, but were never in the contest after quarter-time as the Seagulls piled on 15 goals to three to make it 25 wins and a draw in their past 26 meetings.
Mitch Hibberd was again outstanding with 34 touches and a goal, Liam Hunt had 33 and Darby Henderson 26 in his best VFL performance, while Joel Ottavi and Luke Meadows kicked three goals each.
Nathan Freeman (44 disposals) continued his brilliant season to add to his 40, 42 and 36 in the first three games, while Will Fordham (25) and Josh Newman (23) also tried hard.
Southport romped to its second biggest win against AFL reserves opposition with a 107-point caning of North Melbourne at Fankhauser Reserve.
Twelve players hit the scoreboard for the Sharks, led by Fraser Thurlow’s four and three each to Tom Fielders, Billy Gowers and Connor Nutting, while Jacob Dawson dominated with 38 touches.
Ruckman Tristan Xerri was the Kangaroos’ best with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and 21 hitouts, while Harry Jones was also outstanding with 35 touches and 10 marks.
Werribee eased past the Box Hill Hawks by 37 points at Box Hill City Oval with youngster Hudson Garoni booting another five goals to make it nine in two weeks, while Wylie Buzza kicked three and Matt Hanson had 31 touches.
The Hawks were best served by their VFL-listed players, headed by captain Damian Mascitt (26, two goals) and Jai Newcombe (27).
SATURDAY, MAY 8
Collingwood 14.11 (95) def Coburg 13.13 (91)
Williamstown 17.13 (115) def Frankston 4.7 (31)
Southport 24.9 (153) def North Melbourne 7.4 (46)
Box Hill Hawks 8.5 (53) lost to Werribee 13.12 (90)
THURSDAY, MAY 6
Geelong 17.15 (117) def Northern Bullants 11.6 (72)