Demons Come Up Well Short Against Magpies
High-flying Melbourne's AFL premiership credentials have copped a significant reality check following a heavy Queen's Birthday loss to Collingwood.
In their biggest annual fixture on the home-and-away calendar and before a huge Queen's Birthday crowd of 83,518, the Demons were found wanting.
Having won their previous six matches by an average margin of 11 goals, Melbourne will go into the bye week pondering the many lessons from a 20.13 (133) to 14.7 (91) defeat to the Magpies.
They slipped two spots on the ladder to fifth, with Collingwood improving to sixth with an identical 8-4 win-loss record.
"For six weeks in a row, we have performed really strongly as a footy club but today we weren't at our best," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.
"But we learn, we grow, we get better and we go again.
"We can't look back, we can't look forward, we've got to look at what's right in front of us right now.
"Today was disappointing but I'm not going to go and look backwards or project too much forwards. That's madness.
"We don't worry about the noise. We haven't got he right to worry about the noise."
Despite the loss the Demons remain well placed to qualify for the finals for the first time since 2006.
For much-improved Collingwood, it was the eighth win of their past 10 games.
"Our players are invested, they're working, hard, they're playing for each other with a lot of care," said Magpies coach Nathan Buckley after the 42-point victory, which included a career-best five-goal haul from 211cm American Mason Cox.
"Guys know exactly what their strengths are and how they can bring them to the table. That's been really positive.
"We've taken the first couple of steps and we'll continue to explore our football and see what we can turn it into."
Sydney (9-3) moved level on points with second-placed Richmond after a 19.12 (126) to 7.13 (55) trouncing of a St Kilda outfit still without a victory since round one.
The situation looked even more dire for the Saints at quarter-time of Saturday night's match at Etihad Stadium after the Swans had bolted out of the blocks with nine of the first 10 goals.
Big guns Gary Ablett and Tom Hawkins fired fourth-placed Geelong to a 37-point win over North Melbourne.
It set up a huge clash on Sunday with next reigning premiers Richmond, who went down by 14 points to Port Adelaide in what was a third successive interstate loss for the Tigers in 2018.
Ninth-placed GWS recorded the biggest victory in club history - a 108-point drubbing of hapless Gold Coast.
Fremantle and Essendon both improved to 5-7 with wins over Adelaide and Brisbane, respectively.