Port ramp up the power to sink Tigers and turn sights to finals

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Finals-bound Port Adelaide produced a late flourish on Sunday to turn a protracted arm wrestle into a comfortable 31-point victory over Richmond.

The Power booted five of the last six goals to hit the finals with sound momentum and apply the last rites on the Tigers’ 2023 campaign.

Port Adelaide’s Sam Hayes and Toby Nankervis of the Tigers do battle.Credit: AFL Photos

Richmond superstar Shai Bolton’s season ended with a nasty ankle injury and Maurice Rioli suffered another hamstring injury, adding to the Tigers’ tale of woe.

Bolton limped off favouring his right ankle after being brought down by Connor Rozee late in the match, after Maurice Rioli pulled up lame in the third quarter after hurting his right hamstring while pursuing a loose ball against Travis Boak.

The new-look Tigers, without retired legends Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt, looked slick in patches but not for long enough, before the match got away from them late. It was a microcosm of their season.

The Power, meanwhile, have bigger fish to fry, beginning with a qualifying final date with Brisbane Lions at the Gabba in a fortnight’s time.

They were understandably a touch off the boil early and can be excused for drifting their focus towards their upcoming September assault on the flag instead of the job at hand.

Shai Bolton of the Tigers on the move, but he suffered an ankle injury in the match.Credit: Getty Images

Dynamic duo Zak Butters and Rozee will enter the finals in a rich vein of form, combining for 63 disposals and 13 clearances, offsetting the ruck dominance of Toby Nankervis.

Dustin Martin finished the season full of spring, winding back the clock with another masterclass and Thomson Dow, who started in the middle, conjured the best game of his career, but not enough Tigers went with them.

Martin’s majesty and Richmond’s superiority at the contest and in the battle for territory went unrewarded in the first half as the visitors let the Power off the hook constantly by spraying set shots.

Noah Balta followed two strong marks with two easy misses, Tim Taranto hit the post and Bolton’s radar was hit-and-miss.

Dustin Martin is chased by Travis Boak.Credit: AFL Photos

The normally reliable Martin swallowed Xavier Duursma’s turnover before missing from 60 metres in the closing seconds of the first half, at the end of which Richmond trailed by two points, their 34-21 inside-50s advantage sabotaged by missing 11 of 16 shots.

The trend continued after the interval, Nankervis miscuing a gettable free kick into the upright.

It also became contagious as the Power, getting on top in general play, took their turn in racking up the behinds.

Sam Powell-Pepper celebrates a goal.Credit: AFL Photos

Their best effort, ironically, came just too late when Jason Horne-Francis was awarded a free kick in the dying seconds before playing on to Kane Farrell who blazed nicely from range just after the three-quarter-time siren had sounded.

The two sides traded four behinds to start the fourth before Sam Powell-Pepper ended the rot.
Martin’s pick-up and snap kept the Tigers in the hunt, but it would prove their last hurrah as the home side ran riot down the stretch.

Hemmed in their back half constantly early, the Power were handed a reprieve as the Tigers were hit with a rare 100-metre penalty. Shai Bolton conceded a free kick to Ryan Burton before being hit with a 50m penalty for pointing to the replay screen as he argued his case.

Daniel Rioli then added another 50m penalty for not moving out of the protected area as Burton made his way up the ground. Richmond were made to pay as Ollie Lord plucked a mark against Nick Vlastuin and goaled from close range to gnaw into the Tigers’ initial lead.

Daniel Rioli looked in strife early in the second stanza, hobbling while clutching his right hip after being crushed in the aftermath of a marking contest between Noah Balta and Aliir Aliir. Rioli moved gingerly for some time but in the second half he appeared to have made a full recovery, goaling on the run early in the third to close Port’s lead to one point. Maurice Rioli wasn’t so fortunate.

PORT ADELAIDE 4.3 6.7 8.13 13.16 (94)
RICHMOND 3.4 5.11 7.13 8.15 (63)

Port Adelaide: Evans 3, Rioli 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Lord 2, Houston, Duursma, Byrne-Jones, Rozee.
Richmond: Bolton 2, Bauer, Martin, Banks, Rioli, Graham, Soldo.
Port Adelaide: Rozee, Butters, Drew, Houston, Aliir, Farrell, Burton.
Richmond: Martin, Nankervis, Dow, Graham, Short.
UMPIRES Haussen, Howorth, Rebeschini, Tee.
VENUE Adelaide Oval
CROWD 39,860

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