PORT ADELAIDE 2.4 6.6 8.9 12.15 (87) COLLINGWOOD 1.4 4.6 7.7 9.9 (63)
Goals: Port Adelaide: C Wingard 3 J Schulz 3 O Wines 2 T Boak 2 A Monfries J Westhoff. Collingwood: D Swan 3 T Cloke 2 B Macaffer D Beams L Keefe M Williams.
Best: Port Adelaide: Wingard, Cornes, Ebert, Logan, Carlile, Cassisi, Wines, Schulz. Collingwood: Swan, Beams, Sidebottom, Williams, O'Brien.
Umpires: Chris Donlon, Jeff Dalgleish, Scott Jeffery.
Official Crowd: 51,722 at MCG.
Despite having won an AFL premiership, Port Adelaide has been a club that in the past few years has often struggled for identity. Not now.
Saturday night's stunning 24-point eclipse of Collingwood is the sort of victory on which a team can build an entire era. Surely the only Power victory that could even come close for legendary status is the 2004 grand final it won.
Port's Matthew Lobbe battles with Collingwood's Dane Swan at the MCG. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Swan (3.3), Cloke (2.1), Beams (1.0), Keeffe (1.0), Macaffer (1.0), Williams (1.0), Elliott (0.1), Sidebottom (0.1), Thomas (0.1)||Scorers||Schulz (3.3), Wingard (3.1), Boak (2.1), Wines (2.0), Monfries (1.2), Westhoff (1.1), Broadbent (0.1), Ebert (0.1), Hartlett (0.1)|
It wasn't just the size of the upset over the Magpies, it was the way it was achieved. Port three times looked set to buckle under the weight of Collingwood pressure and its own relative experience. And three times it answered the challenge. Emphatically.
The heroes for the underdog were both young and old. There was the non-stop running of Kane Cornes and Brad Ebert. The smarts, grunt and sheer gumption of Chad Wingard and Ollie Wines. The doggedness of Tom Logan and Alipate Carlile in defence. But this entire Port line-up just simply kept on coming, finally breaking Collingwood's resistance.
Collingwood looked more assured in the opening few minutes, Port turning the ball over several times by foot. But a wonderful individual effort by Justin Westhoff kick-started what became a very encouraging first quarter. The mobile big man marked well out, played on, did the give-and-get with ruckman Matthew Lobbe, then curled a left foot snap through from a tightish angle. From then, the Power played without fear, and certainly with no favour.
AFL Elimination Final: Collingwood v Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide celebrate their win over Collingwood. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
After a couple of misses, key forward Jay Schulz kicked the second after a strong mark. Collingwood missed a couple of opportunities, before it, too, was steadied momentarily by some individual heroics, Heath Shaw beating Angus Monfries in a one-on-one then landing the ball on Dane Swan's chest, the Brownlow medallist converting.
The Pies had enjoyed 17-10 inside 50 entries, more tackles, more contested possession and as many clearances. But Port's use of what ball it won was far superior, at one stage up over 80 per cent efficiency while Collingwood languished in the 60s. And things looked more dire immediately the second quarter began after a very costly lapse in discipline.
Within a minute of the restart after quarter-time, Port skipper Travis Boak ran into an open goal. As he ran off to celebrate, Monfries and Shaw conducted their own little slanging match. It was Shaw whose control lapsed first. He grabbed Monfries by the throat and conceded a free kick in the goal square before the ball had been bounced again.
All of a sudden, Port led by 18 points. And if the Magpies hordes' hearts began to beat a little faster, they must have been racing when only another two minutes on, Schulz soared on the back of opponent Nathan Brown to take a huge grab, one of the best handful of marks taken this season. Without batting an eyelid, he then dobbed the shot, and it was out to four goals.
It wasn't one of Collingwood's old hands who landed the counterpunch, but a far rawer customer in running defender Marley Williams, who sneaked forward to get on the end of a handball from Paul Seedsman. But the Pies still weren't helping themselves, still making too many mistakes, and failing to capitalise on Port Adelaide's as well.
Like when Matthew Broadbent chipped the ball across goals inside his defensive 50, Jamie Elliott taking an intercept mark. But Elliott returned the favour, an attempted chip pass spoiled and another opportunity lost.
The Magpies finally began to hit their mark when within two minutes into time-on, Travis Cloke turned on to his left foot and snapped truly. Then Brent Macaffer, performing an effective lockdown role on Boak, turned on to his right and did the same thing. It was back to a goal, the pro-Collingwood crowd finding its full voice, and a critical few minutes before half-time still to play.
But, as it has all season, Port Adelaide simply kept plugging away. And it was rewarded when Brad Ebert went long out of traffic, to find Chad Wingard inexplicably left completely unattended in the goal square, the likely All-Australian marking and strolling into an open goal. The Power was clearly not planning to go quietly. And as if to underline the point, it produced exactly the same climb from the metaphorical canvas after half-time.
Collingwood came out after the long break a completely different team. It was harder, hungrier, and finally hitting the scoreboard. Lachie Keeffe, unusually playing in attack, had the first after a strong mark just 15 metres out. Then Swan, already holding his own, decided to put his stamp on proceedings.
Standing forward, he marked a clever centring kick by Sam Dwyer and ran into an open goal. A few minutes later he marked, turned, and repeated the dose, the Pies now with a seven-point lead. The Pies looked ready to steamroll Port. After 15 minutes of play, Collingwood had trebled the Power's tackle count and had racked up a dozen inside 50s to just two.
But again Port held its nerve. A smart pick-up from Tom Logan off his toes landed with Wingard, who did the job from 50 metres. Then Wines repeated the dose, the Power with the initiative again.
And yes, it happened yet again in the last. Dayne Beams had the Pies' first. Under five minutes in, Cloke had the second. Collingwood led by five points, the 51,000-strong crowd was going berserk, substitute Alan Didak in everything and looking likely to play a pivotal role in another emotional Magpie win. Incredibly, though, Cloke's goal would be Collingwood's final shot of the season.
From there, Port not only bounced back, but completely dominated, four goals within nine minutes turning a cliffhanger into a steamroller job by the underdog. Boak soccered the first to restore the lead. Wines snapped beautifully around his body. And the point of no return had symbolism written all over it, a long ball to the square from Jasper Pittard greeted by three Magpie defenders flying together and the brilliant Wingard casually waiting at the back for the spoils.
And for Port Adelaide, a glorious new chapter of its history.
A SHAW IMPLOSION
Heath Shaw's dash and talent is offset on occasion by his tendency to lose the plot. This happened in a spectacular - and costly - moment in the opening minutes of the second quarter after Travis Boak had booted Port's third goal. Shaw became involved in a wrestle with his opponent Angus Monfries and pulled at the Port forward's jumper, getting him high in what looked a jumper punch. The umpire paid a free on the spot - the top of the goal square - handing the Power a 12-point play.
Moments after the Shaw incident, a long, high ball was sent to about 35 metres from the Port attacking goal (Punt Road end). Jay Schulz had the run from the back and has a knack for a speccie. He launched from well back and got the ride in a pack, taking a screamer that at least gives Jeremy Howe some competition for mark of the year.
POWERING ON AT THE 'G
Port Adelaide hadn't played at the MCG since round one of this season, when it thrashed Melbourne, its first victory at the ground since early 2009. Far more amazingly, it hadn't played a night game at the ground since round 21 of the 2004 season, when it beat Collingwood. The Power will certainly be hoping that is an omen, given what happened only five weeks later that year. - Jake Niall, Rohan Connolly