Collingwood’s finals hopes are hanging by a thread after a 24-point loss to Hawthorn condemned them to the bottom four of the AFL ladder.
The 18.10 (118) to 14.10 (94) defeat at the MCG on Sunday took the Pies’ record to 5-9, leaving coach Nathan Buckley under more pressure than ever to save his job.
Hawthorn trailed by two points at three-quarter-time but rallied in the final term, with star Tom Mitchell booting two clutch fourth-quarter goals to seal the victory.
The 15th-placed Pies lost both Tyson Goldsack (concussion) and Darcy Moore (hamstring tightness) to injuries and now have eight games left to turn their season around.
Five of those games will come against current top-eight sides, but Buckley insists all is not lost.
“The win-loss doesn’t look great for us but we’re not giving the year up,” he said.
“The results will keep telling you that you don’t actually know what’s going to happen.
“If you can put four or five wins together, you could finish anywhere. We’re not putting the cue in the rack just yet.”
It was a round that separated the premiership contenders from pretenders, with Sydney, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda all fighting their way to important victories on the road.
The Swans were far too good for a depleted Melbourne on Friday night in a clash overshadowed by Demons midfielder Tomas Bugg’s ugly strike on Callum Mills.
Bugg is certain to be referred directly to the tribunal and could face a six-week suspension for the behind-play incident.
A valiant West Coast overcame the loss of several key players to down the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium, while the Tigers notched a 13-point victory over fifth-placed Port.
The Power remain firmly in the mix but blew another opportunity to claim their first win over a top-eight side for the season.
St Kilda, meanwhile, salvaged their spot in the top eight with a hard-fought nine-point win over Fremantle on Sunday.
Premiership fancies Greater Western Sydney and Geelong fought out the first draw of the season on Saturday night.
Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins had a chance to win the match after the siren but could only manage a behind from his set shot.
Gold Coast celebrated midfield maestro Gary Ablett’s 300th game with a 19-point victory over North Melbourne.
Adelaide held off Carlton with a 12-point home win while Brisbane notched the upset of the round, beating Essendon by eight points at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.