A STUNNING nine-goal third quarter propelled Collingwood to a thrilling comeback win over North Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday, with the Magpies overcoming a 39-point half-time deficit to clinch a 17-point win.
North looked to have the game in control at the main break, having dominated play in the midfield and ruled the air inside its forward 50 through tall targets Jarrad Waite and Drew Petrie.
But the Pies came out a different team after half-time to produce a remarkable 13-goal-to-four second half that sealed a 17.10 (112) to 14.11 (95) win in greasy conditions.
Collingwood even looked set to run away with a comfortable win when Jamie Elliott kicked the opening goal of the final term – the Pies' 10th in a row – to put his side 20 points up.
But North suddenly found a spark when Robbie Nahas kicked its first goal of the second half three minutes later, with Lindsay Thomas and Jarrad Waite adding another two in the next two minutes.
And when Drew Petrie goaled at the 18-minute mark the Roos were suddenly four points up.
The game's frantic final minutes were played in driving rain and it was Collingwood that stood up in the conditions.
Dane Swan took an outstanding contested mark over Jamie Macmillan at the 23-minute mark and converted from 20m to give the Pies back the lead.
Jarryd Blair kicked truly from 40m three minutes later to give the Pies a 10-point lead and Elliott poured salt on to the Roos' raw wounds after the siren when he slotted his fifth major.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley acknowledged North's dominance of the first half, saying the challenge for his team was to produce the sort of form it showed in the second half more often.
"You've got to give credit to the way they played the first half, they played really good footy and made it very hard for us to do what we wanted to do," Buckley said.
"They created enough chaos in their ball movement, their contest was better than ours.
"They were spreading better than us and put our defence under pressure, we've got to find that middle range where our worst isn't that bad and bring it up to our best, because that's what the best teams do."
North coach Brad Scott was appalled with his team's second-half fadeout, labelling it as "disgusting a performance as I've been involved with since I've been at North Melbourne".
"We went away from doing what we did in the first half which was so successful," Scott said.
"We opened the door or left the door ajar for Collingwood and they ran through it and, regardless of system and structure and alterations to that, we just took our eye off the ball.
"(It was) just absolutely appalling and we've got to turn it around very quickly because at the moment we're capable of what we're capable of in the first half and (can) really dominate a game, and then for whatever reason whether it's mental aptitude or mental strength (we don't finish the job).
"We use the right words (about) being tough and ruthless and relentless but it was anything but in the second half."
Steele Sidebottom was outstanding for Collingwood, finishing with 31 possessions and one goal, while Elliott - who along with skipper Scott Pendlebury helped spark the Pies' comeback - kicked four of their 10 consecutive goals.
Swan also worked his way into the game after a wasteful first half, racking up a game-high 32 possessions and six clearances.
Todd Goldstein (19 possessions, eight marks and 51 hit-outs) was a tireless worker for North, while Waite (three goals and nine marks) was lively in attack and Brent Harvey (27 possessions) and Sam Gibson (27) provided constant run.
North dominated the opening half, controlling play in the midfield and ruling the air in attack through tall trio Waite, Petrie and Ben Brown.
Waite kicked two of the Roos' four opening-term goals to help set up a 20-point lead at the first break.
The former Blue also took five marks (two contested) for the term while Petrie took four as North plucked six marks inside its forward 50 to the Magpies' one.
North's quarter-time lead could have been greater too, with Petrie missing three set shots.
The Roos stretched their lead to 39 points at half-time with a six-goal-to-three second term, sending the Pies into the main break needing a massive turnaround.
Magpie powerhouse Travis Cloke tackles North's Sam Wright on Sunday. Picture: AFL Media
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 4.3 13.5 17.10 (112)
NORTH MELBOURNE 4.4 10.6 10.9 14.11 (95)
Collingwood: Elliott 5, Fasolo 2, Swan 2, Witts, Grundy, White, Pendlebury, Cloke, Crisp, Sidebottom, Blair
North Melbourne: Waite 3, Nahas 3, Higgins, Goldstein, MacMillan, Petrie 2, Gibson, Bastinac, Thomas
Collingwood: Elliott, Sidebottom, Swan, Adams, Pendlebury, Fasolo
North Melbourne: Goldstein, Harvey, Gibson, Waite, Nahas
North Melbourne: Andrew Swallow (thumb) replaced in the selected side by Kayne Turner
Collingwood: Adam Oxley replaced by Jordan De Goey in the third term
North Melbourne: Luke McDonald replaced by Kayne Turner in the third term
Umpires: Nicholls, Schmitt, Mitchell
Official crowd: 43,452 at the MCG