Collingwood has boosted his hopes for the final with a thrilling upset from arch-rival Carlton, who lost star defender Jacob Weitering to a shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, the Power defeated Essendon by 16 points at Adelaide Oval, and St Kilda took a convincing 53 point win over North Melbourne at Docklands.
Weitering was substituted from Sunday’s game against a surging MCG midway through the first quarter, leaving a huge gap in the Blues’ rear.
The Magpies took advantage and defeated their old foes in a heart-pounding win of 11.13 (79) to 11.9 (75).
The result was only captured in the last few seconds, when Jack Silvagni’s desperate snapshot out of the congestion drifted painfully beside the Blues.
A crowd of 80,627 witnessed the captivating game, the second-highest attendance at an AFL game since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was the Magpies’ second win over a top four contender in as many rounds after last week’s win against Fremantle, which lifted their win-loss record to 6-5 and placed them on the brink of the top eight.
Young forward Oliver Henry reclaimed his place in Collingwood’s starting 22, scoring three goals in a major contribution, including two majors in the final period to keep the Blues at bay.
Steele Sidebottom and Patrick Lipinski each scored two goals as Jack Crisp (27 disposals), Jordan De Goey (24 disposals, one goal) and Taylor Adams (21 disposals) moved into midfield.
They were engaged in an uphill battle with a Carlton on-ball division led by Adam Cerra (30 divestments), George Hewett (31) and Sam Walsh (35).
Key forward Charlie Curnow netted four goals for the Blues, including the last two of the game to give his side a late chance to claim victory.
A fiery opening ignited when Adams posted a relentless tackle that sent Patrick Cripps across the boundary line, triggering a melee just three minutes into the game.
Quirky kicks on goal kept the Magpies’ lead in the second quarter at just 18 points and it disappeared in short order as Cripps made a comeback.
The Blues kicked the last four goals of the first half and led by six points at the main break.
But they couldn’t find the big opening in the third term, as the Magpies’ three goals gave them an 11-point buffer at the last substitution.
Jesse Motlop broke the drought when a scoring review headed his way, dragging Carlton back inside a flight of stairs.
Mason Cox kept his nerves in check with a set-shot goal from 15 yards and Tyler Brown’s snap gave the Magpies more breathing room.
But the Blues came again, with Curnow’s third and fourth goals putting them within the range of victory, before Silvagni missed a big score with the last chance of the match.
Power home against Bombers
Port Adelaide survived a huge scare from humble Essendon to take home a win and crawl within touching distance of the top eight.
The Power, with Charlie Dixon scoring two goals in his first AFL game this year, triumphed 9.12 (66) to 6.14 (50).
After five consecutive losses to start their season, the Power is now in 11th place with five wins and six defeats – just one out of eight win.
The Bombers, on the other hand, are in 16th place with just two wins, with their hopes for the finals kicking in mid-season.
The Power ran to a 31-point lead – 8.4 to 2.9 – at halftime against the wayward Bombers.
Essendon produced a spirited battle in the third quarter with four straight goals to sneak within eight points.
But the Power, after a 14-point lead at the last substitution, held sway in the final quarter of an hour when neither side could muster a goal.
The Power’s Brownlow medalist Ollie Wines (29 disposals, six within the 1950s), Karl Amon (25 disposals) and Zak Butters (24 disposals, one goal) were instrumental in fending off the Bombers’ challenge.
And Power javelin Dixon made a successful AFL comeback from ankle surgery, finishing as the only multiple kicker in a game marred by rain in the second half.
Darcy Parish of Essendon was the lead ball winner in the match, with his 39 disposals with 18 contested possessions and nine goals.
The Power scored four goals to nil in the first quarter and, after adding three more unanswered majors in the second term, had a commanding lead of 44-8.
Essendon scored eight backs before ruckman Andrew Phillips kicked his side’s opening goal in the 12th minute of the second term.
The Bombers were 31 points behind halftime but added four consecutive goals in the third quarter, the last of which – from Sam Durham – left them just eight points behind.
The Bombers trailed 14 three-quarters of the time and failed to progress in a scoreless slog of a final quarter.
Saints contribute to the misery of Kangaroos
St Kilda gave North Melbourne no respite and dominated the struggling kangaroos.
Saints coach Brett Ratten saw this as a dangerous game, but his side led the entire game for a regulation win of 16.7 (103) to 7.8 (50).
Midfielders Jack Sinclair and Seb Ross starred for the Saints, while Brad Hill had a match-high 33 possessions and Max King scored three goals.
Little striker Jade Gresham, who scored two goals, and defender Callum Wilkie also impressed.
The much improved Saints are entering their mid-season hiatus with an 8-3 win-loss record.
Kangaroos captain Jack Ziebell kicked a goal in his 250th game, but after a competitive start, his match was no match for the Saints.
It follows another week of crisis in Arden Street, with three of their recruiters resigning and Kangaroos great Wayne Carey criticizing the club.
After Ziebell’s goal in the third quarter, the Saints took advantage of basic mistakes by the Kangaroos defence, and their four-goal run put an end to any hopes of an upset result.
Mitch Owens, called up for the game, kicked his first two goals in one minute.
Saints junior Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, the nephew of AFL great Gavin Wanganeen, marked Sir Douglas Nicholls Round with a bullet pass that King found amid a nest of Kangaroos defenders.
King converted for his second goal.
The Kangaroos’ Jy Simpkin had 29 disposals and kicked his first goal of the season.