Round 23 – Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs: Part 2 (Saints march into the prelim)

Well what a remarkable AFL and ammos (bush footy in the AFL Capricornia league) weekend it was!



The mighty Port Adelaide Power got it done against the Western Bulldogs and now the resilient Boyne Island-Tannum Sands Saints progressed to the AFL Capricornia Preliminary Final against Glenmore Bulls this Saturday.



As team manager of the Saints (a behind-the-scenes role I enjoy) it was pure joy to watch two of the great finals performances from BITS Saints players.



As I mentioned in a previous wrap where I lauded Stephen Pugh – a running machine who just gut runs from contest to contrast in the same way a Travis Boak or Joel Selwood does – ‘Pughy’ doesn’t duck.



He earns frees in earnest and he rolled Rockhampton Brothers Kangaroos today (August 22) with sheer willpower, desperation, class and poise.



Some of his take-aways from the centre feeding off the deft ruckwork of Max Green (yes, Max is the vogue word in footy circles for obvious reasons!) was simply breathtaking. The bulked up Trent Millar was the beneficiary.



Only a couple of years ago, Millar was a scrawny, talented and a take-all-risks player.



With the aid of the gym, this young fella is an explosive beast.



Millar booted six and it could have been more if not for fatigue late in the game.



This bloke can play anywhere and was everywhere as he torched the Kangas’ defence.



BITS Saints lost more than they won this season in what has been a most demanding and challenging year.



But the Saints’ never-say-die attitude may earn them a grand final date against the world record-breaking Yeppoon Swans who are gunning for a seventh-straight premiership.



However, stranger things have happened – as this weekend has shown.



There’s no guarantees that the ‘strangeness’, ‘craziness’ (call it what you like) will not continue and both my teams are in it for the ride…





Like he has done so often in his illustrious career, Port Adelaide Power’s Robbie Gray propelled his team to a home qualifying final against Geelong Cats.



Gray’s goal gave the Power the lead for the first and only time against the Western Bulldogs in a double-edged game that presented the Bulldogs the chance to sew up fourth spot on the AFL ladder.



It looked likely for most of the match after another slow start by Port at an empty Marvel Stadium that deserved a packed house.



But led by Gray (25 disposals), Travis Boak (31 possessions, two goals) and midfield bull Ollie Wines (34 disposals; 17 contested), Port booked its spot for in the qualifying final against the Cats at Adelaide Oval winning 9.12 (66) to 10.4 (64).



Power fans’ hearts were in their mouths as one final foray by the Dogs’ Bailey Smith was spoilt through for a behind with just four seconds left.



Port kicked the final three goals of the game – the first was a Wines’ curling goal.



Boak then bent one around to perfection before he assisted Gray for the sealer as the Western Bulldog midfielders tired after half-time.



Scott Lycett monstered Lewis Young in the ruck with 41 hitouts and 22 possessions while defender and captain Tom Jonas put on a masterclass against dangerous forward Aaron Naughton.



Power young gun Connor Rozee was important with two goals and 100-gamer Karl Amon produced a stirring second half with his link-up work in the middle of the ground.



Wines may well have sealed the Brownlow Medal against fellow favourite Marcus Bontempelli.



The latter started in bright fashion to kick the first goal of the game as the Doggies were up and running early.



After Naughton’s goal soon after, Wines and his fellow mids took over and for all of the Power’s good work across all statistics, the scoreboard didn’t reflect its dominance.



Adam Treloar’s dart gave the Western Bulldogs the advantage but Port wasn’t to be denied a golden opportunity to book a repeat of a Cats qualifying showdown this weekend.



Power coach Ken Hinkley said his team showed resilience – a trait that has been the common theme amid some adversity in the medical rooms.



‘It was a remarkable result because we tried everything we could to lose it ourselves with our conversion,’ Hinkley said on the Port Adelaide website after the game.



‘We were pretty dominant really throughout the game but we just couldn’t hit the scoreboard and to the Bulldogs’ credit, they were able to go forward and score.



“It was a remarkable effort really when you consider it took until that late in the game to get there.’



This game was basically a pre-qualifying final and the perfect setup for the real stuff next weekend.



‘Finals are like that and they’ll be like that all the way through,’ he said. ‘They’re going to be tough and tight, we played in them last year and lost a prelim final by a goal.



‘We understand you have to be able to go the whole way and you’ve got to be able to hang in there sometimes and it’s as simple as that tonight – we wouldn’t go away.



‘The Bulldogs had lots to play for, as we did, and in the end we were able to come over, play that game of footy, hang tough and come away with a strong win.’



Aside from an unfortunate hamstring injury to young key forward Mitch Georgiades, the team has a clean bill of health.



Orazio Fantasia is set to be the logical replacement against Geelong.




WESTERN BULLDOGS      4.1     5.3     9.3     10.4   (64)
PORT ADELAIDE                  1.3     1.8     6.10    9.12  (66)


Western Bulldogs: English 2, Bontempelli, Naughton, Dunkley, Johannisen, Weightman, Vandermeer, Hunter, Treloar
Port Adelaide: Rozee, Ladhams, Boak, Gray 2, Wines


Western Bulldogs: Macrae, Hunter, Daniel, Dale, B.Smith, Treloar
Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Gray, Lycett, Rozee, Amon





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About Nicholas Kossatch

Tall and intelligent and athletically built who calls a spade a spade. Love sports writing and sending letters and texts to the editor about AFL and the Port Adelaide Power - win, lose or draw. I do not sit on the fence. Soon to be 40! I play basketball and over 35's supers football. Have played amateur footy and a bit of cricket and basketball when living in Adelaide. Do some writing for the Murray Pioneer,

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