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Greater Western Sydney punched their ticket to a preliminary final date with Collingwood after putting Port Adelaide to pasture with a midfield masterclass of the highest quality.
The Giants’ Orange Tsunami left the Power feeling black-and-blue and searching for answers in a brutal first half of the 13.15 (93) to 9.16 (70) win before some errant goalkicking offered Port a genuine sniff.
Toby Greene celebrates a goal with Giants teammates during the win over Port Adelaide.Credit: AFL Photos
The coalface exhibition was spearheaded by super-motivated former captain Stephen Coniglio and future skipper Tom Green.
Lachie Whitfield ran riot with his pristine ball use and workrate across half-back, Jack Buckley starred in defence and star forward duo Jesse Hogan (four goals) and Toby Greene (three) kept the scoreboard moving.
The Power finished with a flurry but early on they were in some strife.
They had to tackle ferociously, they had to intercept, they had to capitalise on their opportunities, they basically had to get everything right – because they were being monstered at the stoppages.
GWS only led by three points at quarter-time despite their lights-out centre-square supremacy, but there was a feeling the hosts were hanging on for dear life, their wall ready to break.
Kieren Briggs and Charlie Dixon go head to head.Credit: Getty Images
That’s exactly what happened in the second stanza. Willem Drew gave Port back the lead with a superb front-and-centre left-foot snap, but the next 20 minutes was one-way traffic down the other end, the Giants lining up in waves to fill their boots.
Replicating the midfield shellacking they administered on St Kilda in the elimination final a week earlier, GWS unleashed a withering but wayward 5.7-to-0.1 burst – they could have really sealed it – to hold sway by 29 points at half-time.
The Power were held goalless for the term, completely swamped and seemingly without a way out.
They found a way in the third, the impressive Willie Rioli slotting his third goal and a dormant Zak Butters finally springing to life.
Travis Boak avoids a tackle by Callan Ward.Credit: Getty Images
The Giants’ advantage was scaled back to 25 points at three-quarter-time, thanks as much to their own inaccuracy as Port’s belated lift.
The 25-point three-quarter-time margin should have been greater after the Giants missed a flurry of sitters – the visitors shanked 2.10 from the moment Isaac Cumming bombed successfully midway through the second.
The Power had a heartbeat – and it was pounding strongly when Charlie Dixon started the fourth period with a strong mark and goal.
With ruckman Kieren Briggs labouring with a shoulder injury and the Giants’ petrol levels finally depleting, Port rallied hard – but it was now their turn to suffer goalkicking yips. Their last nine attempts for the season were all behinds.
Against the grain, Jake Ricciardi kicked the most difficult goal of the game in the scoreboard pocket before Greene the great used all his incredible craft and skill to boot his third and inspire his team into the final four.
The Power battled to make any inroads into the Giants’ second-quarter surge. And when Port did manage to scrounge some rare opportunities, they were denied by some inspirational defending from GWS.
Travis Boak found the middle of the big sticks with a wonderful, raking finish, but Port were only rewarded with a rushed behind after his shot flicked Ollie Lord’s thumb and brushed Sam Taylor’s calf on the last line.
Later in the term, Connor Rozee’s snap was accurate but shaved the outstretched fingertips of the brilliant Jake Buckley.
GWS GIANTS 4.4 9.11 11.15 13.15 (93)
PORT ADELAIDE 4.1 5.6 8.7 9.16 (70)
GWS: Hogan 4, Greene 3, Coniglio 2, Daniels, Riccardi, Kelly, Cumming.
Port Adelaide: Rioli 3, Marshall 2, Drew, Dixon, Lord, Horne-Francis.
GWS: Coniglio, Green, Whitfield, Buckley, Hogan, Greene, Ward.
Port Adelaide: Houston, Boak, Horne-Francis, Butters, Drew, Rioli.
GWS: Briggs (shoulder).
UMPIRES Foot, Stevic, Stephens, Gavine.
CROWD 45,520 at Adelaide Oval.
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