Star Collingwood duo Daniel Wells and Jamie Elliott were struck down by injuries as the Magpies survived a frenetic Fremantle fightback to post a 20-point win in Sunday’s AFL clash at Domain Stadium.
Wells has been plagued by a range of leg issues in recent years, and he pinged his left calf while taking off to sprint late in the third quarter.
And the Magpies were dealt another blow when Elliott was carried off with a left ankle injury early in the final quarter before Collingwood sealed the 15.15 (105) to 12.13 (85) win.
Elliott, who booted three goals in the third term, was seen on crutches after the match.
With just two fit men on the bench, Collingwood looked ripe for the picking, especially with Tyson Goldsack (shoulder/fingers) and Levi Greenwood (corked leg) also nursing injuries.
But the Magpies booted the last four goals of the match to make sure of victory.
Collingwood’s third win on the trot boosted their win-loss record to 5-6, easing the pressure on coach Nathan Buckley and leaving the club just one win adrift of the top eight.
Fremantle (6-5) remain in eighth spot despite back-to-back losses.
Sunday’s match was Ross Lyon’s 130th game in charge of Fremantle – eclipsing the club’s previous highest mark of 129 set by Chris Connolly between 2002-2007.
Collingwood dominated play in the opening term, with the inside-50 count reading 12-1 at one stage.
But their wayward kicking on goal meant their quarter-time lead was only 10 points.
Darcy Moore sprayed a simple set shot from 30m out, while Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams, Jordan De Goey, and Tyson Goldsack also shot wide of the target.
The misses looked to be costly as Fremantle shot into the lead early in the second quarter courtesy of goals to Ed Langdon and Brady Grey.
But the home side’s joy was short-lived as Collingwood slammed through the next four goals to take a 16-point lead into the long break.
The Magpies opened up a 14-point lead early in the final quarter, but Fremantle hit back with goals to Shane Kersten and Hayden Crozier.
With the injuries piling up, Collingwood should have been road kill, especially after the Dockers closed the gap from 14 points to just one point.
Instead, the Magpies found another gear, with goals to Adam Treloar, Will Hoskin Elliott, Ben Crocker, and Jeremy Howe sealing the win.
Tigers head into bye on a high
Meanwhile, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick paid tribute to his side’s defensive pressure as the Tigers powered into the top four with Saturday night’s impressive win over North Melbourne.
The Tigers had beaten the Kangaroos just twice in 10 meetings leading into their round 11 clash but rode a third-quarter blitz to a 14.17 (101) to 9.12 (66) win at Etihad Stadium.
Hardwick’s side moved into fourth spot with the victory that improved their record to seven wins and four losses.
Hardwick is confident the Tigers have developed a high-pressure game that will serve them well as they seek to keep pace with the top tier of the competition.
“It’s an interesting one perceived pressure … I think we’re the No.1 in the AFL for (creating) forward half turnovers, so sometimes you’re reputation probably precedes you,” Hardwick said.
“When you’ve got guys like (Daniel) Rioli, (Shai) Bolton, (Jason) Castagna and (Dan) Butler … knowing they’re coming I think sometimes that puts a bit of pressure on the opposition.
“So they probably get rid of (the ball) half a step earlier.
“People will say that (North) kicked it away but I think our reputation is pretty strong in that (area).”
Giants stand tall
Round 11 saw a changing of the guard at the top of the AFL ladder with Greater Western Sydney replacing Adelaide.
The Giants defeated Essendon by 16 points at Spotless Stadium to improve to a 9-2 record, while the Crows suffered a disappointing 22-point defeat at the hands of Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
It’s the first time in the Giants’ history that they’ve sat atop the AFL tree.
“It’s great to be on top of the ladder – it means we’ve won again – but realistically, it doesn’t change anything,” GWS coach Leon Cameron said after the 18.9 (117) to 15.11 (101) win.
“The most pleasing thing is to come back from Perth and back up and win again.”
Gold Coast produced the upset of the round when they shocked West Coast by three points – 11.14 (80) to 11.11 (77) – at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
Peter Wright was the hero for the Suns with a mark and goal inside the last two minutes to put his side in front.
Port Adelaide kicked the round off with a 51-point belting of Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.
The Hawks’ first-half score of 0.3 was the lowest in the club’s history.