Collingwood earned Queen’s Birthday honours in a dour clash with AFL rivals Melbourne, downing the Demons by 33 points at the MCG.
The Magpies have had good and bad wins in their 2014 campaign, but few as ugly as their eighth.
The 8.13 (61) to 3.10 (28) victory in front of 68,124 represented the lowest-scoring match between the two sides since the 1960 grand final.
Fierce pressure from both teams and a preference for one-on-one contests ensured space was at a premium, and turnovers were far too prevalent.
Both sides were guilty of butchering the ball, but the Magpies got better the longer the game went.
Dayne Beams, who along with skipper Scott Pendlebury had been subdued for most of the opening half, booted an all-important goal either side of three-quarter time.
Melbourne continued to press, but managed only three behinds before Jamie Elliott gave the Magpies a 25-point lead early in the final term.
It unsurprisingly proved an unassailable margin for a team that managed three goals total.
“We knew it was going to be a grind. All week they’ve been saying it’s their biggest game,” said Pendlebury, who finished with 26 touches to be one of his side’s best.
“To keep them to three goals, we’re happy with that.”
It is Melbourne’s lowest score since Paul Roos took the reins at the end of the 2013 season.
But given the Demons’ average losing margin of 71 points in the past three Queen’s Birthday encounters, it was another reminder of the competitive streak and defensive steel that Roos has quickly added.
Melbourne fans will bemoan a controversial decision from the umpires to recall the ball when Neville Jetta had dished it off to Bernie Vince, who looked to have kicked his second goal in the third term.
Jetta tried to repeat the play and the second time gave a handball to a flying Lynden Dunn, but the defender couldn’t split the middle.
The Magpies then took control of the contest with three shots in the final minute of the third quarter, the last being the most damaging when Beams made the most of a poor turnover from Jeremy Howe.