Alarm bells ringing for Collingwood
ALARM bells are ringing for Collingwood after Hawthorn's superb late charge to prevail by four points at the MCG on Friday night.
The clash had all the makings of a dour Collingwood win before the Hawks flipped the script in the final quarter, notching four straight goals on the way to a well-deserved 9.13 (67) to 9.9 (63) victory.
Second-gamer Oliver Hanrahan and fellow rookie Mitchell Lewis played key roles in the Hawks' resurgence, each finishing with two goals, and defender James Sicily was best afield with 28 disposals and 14 marks.
Serious doubts will linger about the second-placed Magpies' premiership credentials after another lacklustre performance and their second loss in a row.
Coach Nathan Buckley pointedly questioned his players' physical efforts in a 44-point loss to North Melbourne last week, which he labelled embarrassing.
Their performance in a game Hawthorn largely dominated was hardly the response for which he would have hoped.
The Pies led at every break thanks mostly to their relative efficiency in front of goal, with the Hawks squandering plenty of chances.
"The season has its ups and downs," Buckley said.
"We're going through a little bit of variability in our footy at the moment. We've still got a fair bit of the season to work that out."
Hawthorn trailed by 10 points at three-quarter time but got on top in the final term after master coach Alastair Clarkson spun the magnets, sending Jack Gunston down back and Tim O'Brien forward in a bid to win the aerial battle.
Emerging key forward Lewis was dangerous throughout and put the Hawks ahead for the first time midway through the quarter with a cool set shot from 45m out.
Will Hoskin-Elliott's major with two minutes left got the Magpies back within a goal, but the Hawks won the ensuing centre clearance and hung on to snap a four-game losing streak.
"It's pleasing tonight that we got some reward and acknowledgement for some of the work that we've done against good opponents," Clarkson said.
"Collingwood aren't playing their best footy right at the present time ... but you can only beat what's in front of you."
The Pies will be left to lament some dreadful skill errors, with equal-leading possession winner Adam Treloar (31 touches) among the worst culprits.
Small forward Jamie Elliott, playing in his first game in two months, managed just seven disposals and appeared off the pace.
Mason Cox (one goal) also had a night to forget, dropping several easy marks including one directly in front of goal in the final term.
The Pies come up against their 2018 grand-final conquerors, West Coast, at Petrh's Optus Stadium next Friday, having lost their past four games against the Eagles.
Collingwood then take on GWS in Sydney before a round-19 showdown with Richmond at the MCG, in what shapes as a season-defining period.
Hawthorn's Daniel Howe will face match review scrutiny for a second-quarter incident in which he kneed Scott Pendlebury in the head.