Port Adelaide will look to keep its faint finals hopes alive in Saturday’s twilight showdown with the red-hot Cats.
The Power’s (8-9, 106.9%) bid to stay in the post-season hunt took a hit last week in a loss to Melbourne, with Ken Hinckley’s men now looking for almost everything, which has reduced the size of the season’s starts.
Geelong (13-4, 137%), the form team of the competition to sit atop the table on the back of eight straight wins, will lose Sam Menegola to injury.
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There were no late changes on either side. Riley Bonner (Port Adelaide) and Shannon Neale (Geelong) were medical substitutes.
Port Adelaide got off to a good start as a neat clearance from the middle put Mech Georgiades in the box and the team scored their first goal of the game.
A great run down the corridor by Max Holmes opened the game for Port Adelaide, Sam Powell-Pepper nailed a set-up and scored his second goal of the game.
As the Cats started to get into the contest, Holmes made the same mistake he had earlier, getting on the end of a bad Port Adelaide kick and hitting the scoreboard.
Port Adelaide’s push was labeled “spectacular” by Gary Lyon on Fox Footy, who said the Force were “playing like a side on their last chance”.
Tom Hawkins was next to score, though in controversial circumstances with the Adelaide Oval crowd in a frenzy of pressure that could have pushed Hawkins from behind against an opponent.
After Gary Rohan went ahead, he kicked straight away to give the Cats an unlikely lead.
Some good work in the contest helped Port Adelaide work out of the forward 50 and it was Todd Marshall who found space and scored.
It was then Port Adelaide’s turn to score back-to-back goals with Kane Farrell finishing off a strong performance from midfield.
Rohan then struck in the second in what was fast becoming a goal spectacle for the Cats.
Jeremy Cameron signaled before the quarter-time siren, but the legality was again disputed, as the ball could hit the ground.
That goal put the Cats four points ahead at quarter-time and, according to Nathan Buckley, “rubbed the green” according to the way their goal was scored.
The Cats got off to a good start in the second term, Patrick Dangerfield nailing a stunning goal on the run.
But minutes later, Cameron missed a perfectly placed shot in front of goal. In fact, Dwayne Russell has said that he is a contender for the worst “loss of the year”.
On the other hand, Mitch Georgiades scored a goal.
Then the cats found the hole. Hawkins responded with a second goal before Grean Myers and Brad Close hit crucial majors to stretch Geelong’s lead to a game-high 22 points.
“Port Adelaide are on the ropes here … their whole season is hanging by a thread,” Russell said.
Lyons added: “What you’re seeing here is a Chris Scott masterclass coming to fruition. After Cameron was re-engaged, you went to ground, Blicavs didn’t have much of a say but Stanley got seven clearances.
Cameron then scored a late goal in the dying seconds after a comical error to Smith scored after the siren to ensure Geelong led by 34 points at the main break.
“It’s starting to break down for them,” Lyon said of the power.
But there was a sudden change of pace in the early stages of the second half.
Port got off to a fast start in the third round, scoring three goals to put themselves in the final.
Sam Powell Pepper scored from long range before Charlie Dixon made a strong mark and converted.
And when Georgiades nailed a field goal, the power came back within 15 points.
The Cats got a consistent goal in response, with Tyson Stengel finding space at half-forward, sprinting in and hitting a big tackle.
But the power came again, with Robbie Gray, Jed McEntee and Todd Marshall kicking goals to reduce the margin to four points.
“You can smell blood,” Russell said.
The event was due for a big lift as Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon took over at center bounce. They were throwing at a Cats outfit without Rhys Stanley, who was out for the third time after eight first-half plays.
Dixon then marked and scored to tie the score and hit a Travis Bock interception to give the Power a three-quarter lead.
Harbor kicked 8.2 to 1.3 in the third period to turn a 34-point deficit into a seven-point lead at the final change.
The Cats had a great start to the fourth term with Cameron kicking the first goal of the quarter against the grain.
Mitch Duncan then showed remarkable composure, delivering a lovely ball inside 50 for Stegle to score and put the Cats back in the lead.
This match will be played at 4:35 pm AEST from Adelaide Oval
Watch it live on Fox Footy (Channel 504) from 4.30pm AEST.
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