In their first visit to the MCG since their AFL grand final heartbreak, Collingwood have suffered more pain as Geelong won a seven--point thriller on Friday night.
Tom Hawkins booted his 500th career goal with just over five minutes left in the see-sawing contest to put the Cats in front as Chris Scott's side held on for a 10.12 (72) to 9.11 (65) win in front of 78,017 fans.
The Pies kept coming but their challenge was effectively over when Jeremy Howe turned the ball over to Patrick Dangerfield inside Geelong's attacking 50 with just over a minute remaining.
It was a fitting end for a tense, if at times scrappy, affair in which the margin was never more than 11 points throughout.
In his first game back with the Magpies after a four-season stint with Brisbane, Dayne Beams levelled the scores in a frantic final term with his fine goal in traffic.
Callum Brown put Collingwood in front with a superb snapped effort, but in a goal that appeared to have a bit to do with the league's new 6-6-6 rule, Brandan Parfitt goaled soon after the restart to set up Hawkins' dramatic winner.
"I don't talk about effort much as a coach, but I really saw it today," Scott said.
"I thought it was right at the end of the spectrum in terms of the effort and intensity we brought at the contest."
Tim Kelly was brilliant for the Cats with 31 possessions and nine clearances, with Dangerfield (27 disposals) and Tom Stewart (26) also important.
Gary Ablett was no less influential spending more time as a forward, booting two goals.
Adam Treloar was in everything for the Pies with 34 possessions and a goal, with Scott Pendlebury (24 possessions) and Jack Crisp (26) also prominent.
Collingwood eked out a nine-point lead at quarter-time but would rue wastefulness in front of goal.
With their midfield gaining the upper hand, the Pies had 11 more inside 50s than Geelong in the second quarter but didn't manage a goal until Jamie Elliott - in his first game since 2017 - kicked his third inside the last minute to give his side an 11-point halftime lead.
The Cats' star trio of Joel Selwood, Ablett and Dangerfield sparked a resurgence after the restart, each adding goals.
Treloar and Jordan De Goey hit back, each booting brilliant majors, but scores were level at the last change, setting up the epic finale.
"We worked pretty well early but it was a true round one game in that there were missed opportunities on both sides," Nathan Buckley said.
"We just weren't able to close it out."
Australian Associated Press