Pies to test Power before finals as Port look to become the first team since 2000 to go through the season on top of the ladder during the minor round
By Jack Koviac
Port Adelaide will be looking to lock in its first minor premiership since 2004 on Monday night when it takes on Collingwood.
The Power secured a top two finish and two home finals when it beat Essendon by 50-points last Saturday.
The Bombers came out of the blocks early, and that combined with some goalkicking inaccuracy from Charlie Dixon saw the visitors leading at quarter time.
While it was a good first quarter for Essendon, the game completely changed from there. Port doubled Essendon’s inside 50’s in the second term, and also had 51 more disposals on their way to five goals to zip for the quarter.
Ken Hinkley would’ve been most pleased by the fact that Port had a season-high 10 different goalkickers, despite the game being played in the wet.
There are probably just two spots in Port’s best 22 up for grabs with Steven Motlop and Kane Farrell the two that are likely to be on the chopping block when Zak Butters returns from suspension, while Riley Bonner will likely make way when Ryan Burton returns from injury. These two won’t play against the Pies so it will be the final audition for a few Port players before finals.
Port’s trio of midfield bulls (Travis Boak, Ollie Wines and Tom Rockliff) continued their great form and are looking primed and ready to go for a run at the premiership. All three of the Power’s gun midfielders had 26 or more disposals and also all kicked a goal.
They will get one final tune-up on Monday night when they come up against the best opposition midfield group they’ve faced in over a month. Port have bashed up younger and less experienced midfields in recent weeks, but will be up against the likes of Adam Treloar, Scott Pendelbury and Taylor Adams, as well as Brodie Grundy in the ruck.
Collingwood come into this game in good form, beating Gold Coast by 22-points last round. With Jordan De Goey (four goals) returning to the side, the Magpies forward set-up looked completely different. Mason Cox also looked the most threatening he has in a long time and chipped in two goals.
Ken Hinkley will have to make some big calls as to which Power defenders get these big jobs. Captain Tom Jonas could the best option to shut down De Goey, while Trent McKenzie will likely get the job on Cox.
With a top two spot secured, Hinkley could look to rest some players that are carrying niggling injuries. There is a pre-finals bye, but Port and Collingwood do have the shortest break before finals of any team.
Nathan Buckley won’t have this same luxury as the Magpies can still finish anywhere between 6 and 8. Of course if Collingwood did finish sixth, it wouldn’t get a home final in the normal sense, but it would be able to have the choice of a number of venues which would be crucial if they came up against West Coast.
Both teams will be relishing the chance to play at the Gabba, given that it is the same venue the Grand Final will be played at in just over a months’ time.
Collingwood have allowed the least points of any AFL team this year and have the ability to shut down Port’s forward line. If this happens, Hinkley will be hoping for another big spread of goalkickers.
That being said, Port are no slouch defensively either, having allowed the second least points of any team this season.
Port has won four in a row going to this match-up but with Collingwood starting to get some key players back on the park and Port not having much to play for, it could be due for a loss. This should be a ripping clash and I’m tipping the Pies to get over the line in a tight one.
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