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Pies over Eagles in a thriller

Nathan Brown and Ben Reid embrace as the final siren sounds on Collingwood's three point win.
It was a match that needed rounds rather than quarters.

But in a game which lived up to its billing as a heavyweight title fight, Collingwood knocked West Coast off the top of the ladder with a gripping three-point victory at the MCG on Saturday.

Led by five goals to Travis Cloke and superb performances from midfielders Dayne Beams and Dane Swan, the Magpies absorbed blows and landed the most telling to eventually run out 12.13 (85) to 12.10 (82) winners.

Relive all the highlights on CTV now.

The match was billed by some as the Grand Final preview and it can only be hoped that the season decider on the last Saturday in September will be anywhere as good as this one.

The Magpies turned a six-point half-time deficit into a 27-point lead heading into time-on in the third term before two late goals to the Eagles then set the scene for a titanic final quarter.

The Eagles rattled on three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the final term to take the lead, but that would be their last goal for the match.

Hear from Buckley and Blair post-match.

Eight minutes of desperate football followed before Beams was pushed in the back 20m out from goal on a tight angle at the Punt Rd end. The kick was never in doubt and for the next 10 minutes, the Magpies held on for a stirring win that now makes them the favourites for the flag.

The victory was Collingwood's ninth in a row.

But the Eagles might feel a bit stiff that Jack Darling didn’t get a free kick for an infringement while attempting to mark inside the last two minutes, but the umpires held their nerve and called play on, in keeping with the spirit of a match in which just 26 free kicks were paid.

Swan had 38 touches for the day and Beams 34. Both were brilliant all game and found a bit late when the Pies looked down and out. Travis Cloke kicked five goals, having the better of Eric MacKenzie and he will forever wonder why he didn't have Eagles skipper Darren Glass for company at some stage.

Daniel Kerr had 29 touches for the Eagles along with the brave and creative Beau Waters, who only blotted his copy book by conceding the free to Beams that set up the winning goal. Kerr was instrumental in West Coast's brave comeback and was the recipient of some wonderful work from Dean Cox, who lifted late when it counted.

Cloke's confidence rising.

But the Eagles will lament the first 20 minutes of the third quarter, when they coughed up the lead and couldn't get their hands on the ball. They finished well, but failed to land the big scalp they needed on the road and have now gone 17 years without beating the Magpies at the MCG.

The Pies return to the MCG on Saturday to host Fremantle, while the Eagles return to Patersons Stadium and should post a victory against winless Gold Coast.

COLLINGWOOD    3.5    6.6    11.10    12.13 (85)
WEST COAST          2.3    7.6      9.7     12.10 (82)

Cloke 5, Beams 3, Fasolo 2, Blair 2
West Coast: Lynch 2, Hams 2, Darling 2, Hill 2, Sheppard, Masten, Kerr, Naitanui

Beams, Swan, Cloke, Thomas, Blair, Shaw, Maxwell
West Coast: Kerr, Waters, Priddis, Schuey, Naitanui, Glass, Lynch

Chris Tarrant (arm) replaced in the selected side by Tom Young
West Coast: Nil

Tom Young replaced Martin Clarke in the final quarter

West Coast: Tom Swift replaced Mitch Brown in the final quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Rosebury, Stevic, Findlay

Official crowd: 62,957 at the MCG

You can follow AFL Media senior writer Ashley Browne on Twitter @afl_hashbrowne

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs.