DESPITE criticism of its new game plan, a horror injury count and allegations of a rift between coach Nathan Buckley and senior players, Collingwood is on top of the AFL ladder at the half-way mark of the 2102 season after downing Melbourne by 42 points yesterday.
The Pies lost small forward Alan Didak to a groin strain in the first five minutes, but set up a six goal lead at quarter-time on the back of fierce tackling and poor skills from the Demons.
Collingwood midfielders Sharrod Wellingham, Dane Swan, Steele Sidebottom, Dayne Beams and Ben Sinclair were proving too much for Melbourne to handle, and it took until 10 minutes before half-time for the Dees to score their first goal through Jeremy Howe.
James Magner added another and Howe his second to give Melbourne fans something to cheer about at the main break.
The Magpies again had the better of general play in the third quarter, but inaccuracy in front of goal kept the Demons in the contest.
Mitch Clark booted three for the quarter for Melbourne who sensed an upset at the last change, trailing by 26 points.
That possibility was erased in the first 70 seconds of the last quarter, goals to Alex Fasolo, Tyson Goldsack and Travis Cloke quickly putting the issue beyond doubt.
The only questions left were the eventual margin (42 points) and how many possessions Swan would rack up (also 42).
COLLINGWOOD 6.3 8.9 10.15 19.15 (129)
Goals: Sinclair 3; Wellingham, Goldsack, Cloke, Fasolo, Blair, Swan, Jolly 2; Sidebottom, Beams.
Best: Swan, Beams, Sidebottom, Blair, Wellingham, Sinclair, Goldsack, Fasolo.
MELBOURNE 0.4 3.4 7.7. 13.9 (87)
Goals: Clark 4; Howe, Dunn 2; Magner, Sylvia, Rivers, Trengove, Blease.
Best: Clark, Jones, Howe, Grimes, Watts, McKenzie.
Official crowd: 64, 250 at the MCG