2020’s bumper finals series kicks off tonight with a Preliminary Final spot on the line.
Since 2012 Geelong have been top-four mainstays, but have an underwhelming 4-11 record come finals time. Is this they year they turn it around?
Port Adelaide haven’t won a final since 2014, can Ken Hinkley’s men cash in on their minor premiership?
Last time they met
In round 12 the Cats romped it home by 60 points, and Tomahawk tore Port to shreds with a bag of six. Tom Clurey struggled on Hawkins, was undersized and got caught playing in front far too often. On the flip side Harry Taylor shut down Port’s key weapon Charlie Dixon, limiting him to three disposals and no scoring shots. Geelong kicked 14 goals to four, and two of Port’s goals came from 50-metre penalties.
Port Adelaide have omitted Riley Bonner, Jarrod Lienert, and Boyd Woodcock for Ryan Burton, Zak Butters, and Tom Clurey.
For the Cats, Esava Ratugolea and Jack Steven have made way for Tom Atkins and Rhys Stanley.
Why Port can win
Minor premierships aren’t handed out. This team came first for a reason and will be hungry to prove their critics wrong.
Why Geelong can win
Tom Hawkins. Having just secured his maiden Coleman Medal, the key forward has premiership success on his mind. Dismantled Port last time they met, could very well do it again.
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Players to watch
After being blanketed by Harry Taylor last game, Charlie Dixon will need to find a way to impact the game when it’s a given Tom Hawkins will be kicking goals at the other end.
Whichever Port defender is entrusted with shutting down Hawkins will have their hands full, and it will be a match-up to watch.
A player like Gary Rohan can turn a game when the opposition’s attention is on the big names. Rohan has made a habit of going quiet in finals. It’s a must he steps up.
At 31 years of age, Patrick Dangerfield has played in four losing prelims and 16 finals for no premierships. That’s going to be in the back of his mind, and will be his making or downfall.
What’s at stake?
We’re set for a ripping Semi Final either way, but the loser of this game will be particularly vulnerable. They’ll have to come up against the might of the West Coast Eagles, or a Collingwood team with sky-high belief after beating the Eagles on their own turf.
Port Adelaide haven’t won a final since 2014. If they lose this next week will be the most important match of Ken Hinkley’s tenure.
Likewise, Chris Scott is under the pump. Many say he inherited the 2011 premiership, his finals record since is 4-11. Whilst the Cats have an exceptional track record of making the eight, they need something to show for it.
Port will certainly make more of a game of it than round 12, and Hinkley will come with a plan for Hawkins. After what he did to them last time, Port may put on over-emphasis on the Tomahawk, which will open the door for his smaller forwards. Cats get over the line, just.