Collingwood coach Craig McRae was left with mixed emotions in the aftermath of his side's thrilling five-point victory over Hawthorn to close the curtains on another Gather Round.

The Magpies would boot just two goals in the second half - both in the third term - and allowed the Hawks to cut a six-goal half-time deficit to within a kick in the final minutes of the game.

While the reigning premiers have become kings of the close game in recent years, Sunday's affair at Adelaide Oval was their first test in holding off a surging rival in the dying seconds this season.

The experienced heads in McRae's side were able to "go into autopilot" in the final quarter to hold onto a win despite the Hawks' best efforts.

Speaking after his side's second straight victory, the premiership coach said it's disappointing the door was left open for Hawthorn but couldn't complain with the end score.

"We go into autopilot in terms of those close games in knowing what to do, although we haven't done it this year. We haven't been in a position to do it," McRae said.

"It was a game of two halves really. We did enough to win the game in the first, but Hawthorn changed the way they went about it and they were fantastic in the second half. They dominated a lot of key parts of the game.

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"This is a competition where if you give the opposition hope and allow them to play their style, you're going to be up against it. We witnessed that, particularly in the last quarter and major parts of the third as well."


Star Magie Jordan De Goey was back to his best on both sides of the ball, collecting 31 possessions and a goal while almost doubling his season tally for tackles in the game alone.

McRae saw De Goey's return to form emerge in last week's win over the Lions, with the tattooed onballer putting forward his best performance of the year against Hawthorn to further lift his game.

"I think if you watch last week's game, you could see it turning. I've never seen him prepare like he has. He's fit enough, it's just a matter of being able to apply that," the Collingwood coach said of the midfielder.

"Last week I thought he was one of the catalysts and reasons why we started getting our game going, and tonight he continued that and got a bit more reward."

Half-back John Noble was again among the Magpies' leading ball winners, adding to a formidable return to the senior side last week after being dropped in the wake of the club's season-opening loss to GWS.

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Noble, who played all of the 2023 home and away season only to be omitted for the club's successful September run, has responded positively to his "adversity" from last year.

"You wouldn't expect anything else from Nobes with the way he prepares and applies himself to wanting to be part of our team," McRae added.

"We are really proud of him. He's part of what we see in our future. We want everyone to get better and he looks like he's got better from his adversity."

The Magpies head into their Round 5 bye with a 2-3 record and will carry a two-game winning streak into their next clash against Port Adelaide on Saturday, April 20 at the MCG.