1st Qualifying Final Preview: Port Adelaide vs Geelong

For the second year running, Geelong will be pitted against Port Adelaide as they look to secure a preliminary final berth.


Last year minor premiers Port trumped fourth-placed Geelong, but it’s second vs third this time around.


Will things pan out differently?



Last time they met

Port Adelaide suffered a 30-point last-quarter turnaround back in round 13 to be bested by the Cats on their own turf.


Having established a nine-point lead early in the last quarter, Jeremy Cameron proved to be Port’s Achilles heel as he booted three majors to bring his side home.


Cameron would finish with five goals, spearheading his side’s ominous three-headed monster also comprised of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron. The trio combined for 12 goals, and it could’ve been more considering Tom Hawkins kicked four behinds.


It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Power though, young gun Connor Rozee burst out of the blocks with four first-quarter goals and finished the game with five. Key forward Charlie Dixon also bagged four goals, while Ollie Wines was up to his usual tricks with 29 disposals and seven clearances.




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Team news

Mitch Georgiades will miss with that hamstring strain and Sam Mayes has been omitted for Port Adelaide, with Orazio Fantasia coming in.


For Geelong, Max Holmes makes way for the return of Mitch Duncan, with Shaun Higgins named the Medical Sub.



Why Port Adelaide can win

Port got the job done over Geelong in the same clash last year, so there’s no reason they can’t do it again.


While you can argue the Cats have added Jeremy Cameron to an already potent forward line, Port have added an All Australian interceptor to their backline.


Ollie Wines has also taken his game to another level in 2021, along with Karl Amon, meaning they’ve not only improved down back but in the engine room.


And many are quick to label the Power flat-track bullies due to their lack of top-eight scalps, but they claimed their best last week against the Dogs, and are peaking at the perfect time.



Why Geelong can win

2020’s grand finalists, and a regular fixture come September, Geelong boasts a wealth of finals experience, and significantly more than their opponents, which will play to their advantage.


Their team is littered with stars across the field and there’s no questioning if the Cats have the talent to get over the line.


Port tends to have an over-reliance on Charlie Dixon, and this could lead to field day picking off forward-50 entries for Geelong's defence.


It’s also Hawkins 300th, and Geelong will be desperate to honour the champion.


Not to mention the Cats beat Port Adelaide in round 13. If they could do it then, why not now?



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Players to watch

There’ll be plenty of names to keep an eye across this game, and with things so evenly poised, it only takes one big performance to swing the pendulum.


Freshly crowned All Australian Aliir Aliir’s going to have his hand full down back, charged with getting in between the likes of Hawkins and Cameron and the Sherrin. His role is crucial, and if he has a quiet night, you can expect the Cats forwards to run all over Port Adelaide.


Of course there’s Ports trio of young stars: Xavier Duursma, Zak Butters and Connor Rozee. They’re all oozing with talent, and have shown was what they can do in the home-and-away season. But finals are a different beast, will one of them rise to the occasion?


Then there’s Todd Marshall. His fellow centrepiece Dixon hasn’t set the world on fire this season, and Port have been hindered by their over reliance with him. Meaning if a lesser light like Marshall can get on the end of a few, Geelong’s plans could be thrown into chaos.


As it has for much of the year, Geelong’s fate largely lies in the hands of their three-headed monster. If Hawkins, Cameron and Rohan all make their presence felt on the scoresheet, Port can buckle in for a tough night.


And we haven’t even mentioned the midfield battle: Wines, Boak, Amon, Butters, Duursma vs Dangerfield, Selwood, Guthrie, Duncan, Smith.


Get the popcorn ready.



Prediction

If their last battle was anything to go by, this will be a free-flowing thriller.


The teams are evenly matched across the board, but a vocal and rowdy home crowd will lift Port over the line.

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