North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has refused to blame a contentious late umpiring decision for his side’s heartbreaking one-point defeat to Collingwood, after Bailey Scott was denied a chance to kick a match-winning goal.

Two Magpie players ran over the mark after Scott had marked the ball on the wing with 41 seconds left to play in a controversial finish to the gripping contest at Docklands on Sunday.

The umpire in charge tried to call the players back before Scott quickly played on and pumped the ball deep into the Kangaroos’ attacking zone.

Had a 50m penalty been paid, it would have given Scott a set shot well within scoring range — needing a goal to put North back in front.

Zac Fisher got one last chance to win the game for the Kangaroos, but his hurried snap in the dying seconds drifted wide, leading to an 18.11 (119) to 19.4 (118) defeat.

“There’s decisions that the umps have to make right throughout the course of the game and you feel like they become more pivotal because they’re right at the death knock in a close game,” Clarkson said.

“But they’re making hundreds of decisions a game, and the bottom line is it should never have got to that situation where we allowed Collingwood back into the contest.”

The last-placed Kangaroos looked set to bank their second win of the season when they stunned Collingwood with eight first-quarter goals and led by 54 points early in the third term.

But the reigning premiers have shown on numerous occasions that they can never be counted out, and kicked 12 of the last 16 goals to run over the top of a tiring North Melbourne.

Clarkson described Collingwood’s approach in the second half as like playing a game of “Russian roulette”.

“They made it frenetic footy, took punts, downhill skied and were able to get the ball from one end of the ground to the other really quickly,” he said.

“Collingwood have been the best side in the competition in the last three years at knowing when to go fast and when to slow it down.

“They made it real fast in the second half and we couldn’t slow it down, unfortunately.”

Clarkson was left with mixed emotions, proud of his side’s ability to mix it with Collingwood, but ultimately disappointed in the result.

“We were right in that game right to the death knock,” he said.

“Collingwood are a really experienced side and you think about the amount of games they’ve played in that type of atmosphere over the last two years.

Biggest comebacks in VFL/AFL history

“And they’ve got 30 or 40 games’ experience across the board on our players.

“Despite the disappointment of the loss, the learning for our lads will be profound.”

Kangaroos co-captain Jy Simpkin was a late withdrawal with a hamstring injury and faces a race against time to be passed fit to play against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Magpies coach Craig McRae revealed Nick Daicos was almost ruled out twice before his star man played a crucial role in Collingwood’s epic comeback.

Daicos overcame a lower leg injury during the week and was then in serious doubt for Sunday’s match because of illness.

But the Brownlow Medal fancy stepped up with 29 disposals, six clearances and two crucial third-quarter goals, as he and Bobby Hill led the comeback, with latter taking a mark of the year contender.

The influential display from Daicos came despite coming under close attention from Kangaroos tagger Will Phillips for three quarters.

“He’s a marvel, isn’t he? He was sick yesterday, a chance not to play,” McRae said.

“You know the old magnet like for like? We don’t have one of those (for Daicos).

“So I didn’t sleep that well and didn’t really want to check the phone this morning to see if he was going to be OK.

“Then he was getting tagged well.

“They’ve been doing some good jobs on him in the last couple of weeks but he just finds a way to get into the game through work-rate.

“You watch his work-rate contest to contest … I’m really proud of him.”

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Key events

AFL Sunday scoreboard

GWS 9.19 (73) def. Port Adelaide 6.16 (51)

GWS captain Toby Greene had a case of the goalkicking yips but Port Adelaide were just as bad in front of goal as the Giants posted an ugly 22-point win at Giants Stadium.

Greene had 0.5 to his name in Sunday’s clash before finally kicking his first major midway through the final quarter.

That gave the Giants a 23-point lead and it proved enough as the home side held on for a 9.19 (73) to 6.15 (51) win.

The two teams kicked a combined 15.34 despite the match being played in fine conditions.

Greene was the biggest culprit, though he was a tad unlucky with his first shot in the opening term that was originally declared a goal before being overturned for being touched by an opponent.

The win lifted GWS (8-5) above the Power (8-5) into fifth spot.

Port Adelaide would have jumped to second with victory.

Star Port midfielder Zak Butters could be in trouble for slapping Tom Green with an open palm in the first quarter.

Butters went to whack Green on the shoulder, but his hand deflected up to his opponent’s face.

It was a frustrating day for Butters, who was restricted to 17 disposals and four clearances by tagger Toby Bedford (16 disposals, three clearances, one goal).

Mitch Georgiades kicked three goals for Port, while Dan Houston finished with 35 disposals and 790m gained.

GWS ruckman Kieren Briggs racked up 16 disposals, nine clearances and 29 hit-outs in a losing cause.

Port coach Ken Hinkley made two major selection statements by dropping forwards Charlie Dixon and Jeremy Finlayson, and it was Georgiades who stood tall in the opening term with two goals.

The Giants kicked another behind to start the second term, but their run of seven misses was finally brought to an end courtesy of a horror defensive turnover from Port backman Esava Ratugolea.

Callum Brown marked Ratugolea’s errant kick before converting for the Giants’ opener, and snared another major a minute later to spark a four-goal-to-nil second term for GWS.

The second half was a scrappy affair as both sides missed a glut of gettable shots.

Port levelled the scores early in the third term, but the Giants controlled proceedings for the rest of the match.

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Final numbers from the Showgrounds

A well-deserved win for the Giants in the end, even though it wasn’t always pretty.

They won the disposal count 387-313, the inside 50 count 56-42 and the clearance count 34-33.

Tom Green leads the way for the Giants with 30 touches and four clearances, while Lachie Whitfield adds 28 of his own.

Key Event

FT: Giants fight off Port despite inaccurate outing

The Giants are back in the top eight!

A really impressive victory for Adam Kingsley’s men, who were well and truly tested early by Port Adelaide.

It sets up a simply mouthwatering Battle of the Bridge next weekend when the Giants host the 12-1 Sydney Swans.

The final margin here ends at 23 points after a late Jesse Hogan miss puts the Giants’ ledger at 9.19, while Port didn’t fare much better with their 6.15.

Kelly ices the game for the Giants

Unselfish from Jake Riccardi, who had a chance for a late set shot!

The Giants forward dishes it off to Brent Daniels instead, who handballs it to the on-rushing Josh Kelly who is never going to miss on the run like this.

Snaps it through from 35m on a slight angle.

He’s had 27 touches and a goal on his return from a calf injury.

Two-minute warning

We’re into the final two minutes at the Showgrounds.

Port Adelaide hoping for a miracle now, something similar to what happened against Hawthorn a few weeks ago.

Under four minutes to go

3.22 left on the clock, boundary throw-in deep in the Giants’ forward line.

Wrong end of the ground if you’re Port Adelaide. Time running out.

Ken’s big swing pays off as Ratugolea strikes

Ken Hinkley has swung Esava Ratugolea forward in the final quarter, and the move pays dividends.

Houston finds Ratugolea inside 50 with another lovely chipped kick and Ratugolea picks the perfect time to kick his first goal for the club.

Lead down to 15 points now, 5.23 left, plenty of time for Port.

Time running out for Port Adelaide

Eight minutes remaining on the game clock, and Port Adelaide needs four unanswered goals.

They’ve managed just two in the last two and a half quarters.

It’s going to be a heist of some proportion if they’re to leave Sydney with the four points.

Key Event

Greene extends GWS lead as Port blows chances

A couple of guilt-edged chances missed for Port Adelaide!

Jason Horne-Francis and Todd Marshall both missing set shots from relatively easy spots on the ground.

As it happens so often, the Giants go straight up the other end after the Marshall miss and Toby Greene is awarded a free kick directly in front 35m out.

After five straight behinds to start the match, Greene makes no mistake this time and the Giants are out to a game-high 23-point lead now.

Giants activate sub as Cadman comes off

Adam Kingsley has activated his sub, with Toby McMullin coming onto the ground.

He will replace former No.1 pick Aaron Cadman, who has been quiet this afternoon.

Final quarter underway at Showgrounds

We’re off and running in the final term.

Can Port Adelaide get themselves back into this one? The Power haven’t played a game in 17 days, so they should be relatively fresh.

Key Event

3QT: Giants in driver’s seat after late Hogan goal

Another goal on the siren for the Giants, and that gives GWS a very handy 16-point lead at the final change.

Brent Daniels finding Jesse Hogan inside 50 with a long kick, and Hogan makes no mistake on the simple set shot after the siren.

The Giants narrowly win the quarter by kicking three goals to Port’s two, but this game is far from being done.

Port Adelaide has the two leading ball-winners on the ground, with Dan Houston (27 touches) and Kane Farrell (25) leading the way.

Lachie Whitfield and Tom Green lead the way for the Giants with 21 touches apiece.

Georgiades keeps Port Adelaide in touch

Port Adelaide doesn’t take long to hit back!

A big win on the wing for the Power as the ball ends in the hands of Jason Horne-Francis, who finds Mitch Georgiades on the lead in the pocket.

On a day where almost everyone has struggled to kick straight, Georgiades makes the difficult set shot look very, very easy.

Let’s hope this game opens up a little now.

Bedford marks milestone match with crucial goal

Toby Bedford roves the ruck contest from a boundary throw-in to perfection!

He’s had the tagging role on Zak Butters, but leaves Butters in the dust to kick a vital third quarter goal.

Giants now out to a handy 15-point lead.

Bedford up to 13 disposals, while Butters has just 10.

Aliir returns after ankle issue

Good news for Port Adelaide, with Aliir Aliir returning to the field after looking hobbled a few minutes earlier.

Meanwhile, Ken Hinkley has activated his sub with Quinton Narkle coming on for Ollie Lord.

Daniels with the perfect crumb and finish

Brent Daniels breaks the deadlock with a terrific crumbing goal!

The Giants goalsneak ghosts around the front of the pack after a boundary throw-in and snaps it through from an acute angle.

To make matters worse for Port, Aliir Aliir has come off the ground and is looking real hobbled out there.

In other good news for the Giants, Lachie Whitfield is back out on the ground after having that rib assessment.

Key Event

Whitfield gets ribs assessed after late hit

A bit of an injury concern for the Giants here.

Lachie Whitfield came up proppy after he was bumped following a kick inside 50 around five minutes ago.

Whitfield has come off the ground and is getting his rib area checked out.

We will keep you updated with the latest when we know more.

Dan Houston running amok at Showgrounds

Dan Houston has been EVERYWHERE so far in this one.

The Port defender is the top-ranked player on the ground through the first two and a bit quarters.

Houston with 22 disposals, 498 metres gained and four score involvements off halfback so far.

Collingwood 18.11 (119) def. North Melbourne 19.4 (118)

Collingwood has moved into the AFL’s top four with a stunning comeback from nine goals down in a heart-stopping one-point win over North Melbourne.

The Magpies coughed up eight goals in the first quarter and looked gone for all money when they fell 54 points in arrears early in the third term at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

But they surged back into the contest as Brownlow Medal fancy Nick Daicos starred, helping the reigning premiers to a 18.11 (119) to 19.4 (118) victory.

Trailing by 31 points at the final change, Collingwood kicked six goals to one in the last quarter, which featured three lead changes in time-on in a thrilling finish.

Pies goal-sneak Bobby Hill took a courageous mark and kicked a go-ahead major at the 27-minute mark, but the gripping contest wasn’t settled until Zac Fisher’s last-gasp snap shot floated agonisingly wide for North Melbourne.

Fisher’s kick drifted narrowly to the right with just three seconds left to play in one of the best games of the season so far.

The result lifted the Magpies (8-4-2) into third spot ahead of their mid-season bye, while North Melbourne (1-12) remain anchored to the foot of the ladder.

Controversy erupted in the final minute when North’s Bailey Scott took a mark on the wing but was not paid a 50-metre penalty when Magpies players ran over the mark, amid confusion over whether the ball travelled far enough.

A 50-metre penalty would have put Scott within scoring distance and given him the chance to kick what could have been a match-winning goal.

Daicos starred with 29 disposals, six clearances and two crucial third-quarter goals despite close attention from Will Phillips for three quarters.

Jack Crisp (27 touches, six clearances), Steele Sidebottom (23, six) and Josh Daicos (20, four) were also important, while Hill finished with five goals and fellow small forward Lachie Schultz kicked four.

Brayden Maynard produced a desperate late spoil to deny Nick Larkey a mark, celebrating his 200th Collingwood appearance in fine style.

Larkey kicked four goals for North Melbourne – all of them in a red-hot first quarter – as new rising star favourite George Wardlaw (30 disposals, six clearances) and Luke Davies-Uniacke (31, seven) shone in the midfield.

Cameron Zurhaar kicked three goals for the Kangaroos, who had a sense of deja vu when they relinquished a huge lead in the final quarter.

Like the previous week against West Coast, they hit the front again when mid-season recruit Brynn Teakle accepted a gift from Larkey in the goal square to mark his club debut with a goal.

But this time they couldn’t hold on, with Hill’s fifth major ultimately deciding the contest.

Not even a ground invader could halt Collingwood’s momentum as they surged over the top in the final term.

AAP

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