The AFL and its predecessor, the VFL, have always been a rich source of exasperating characters. It would rival politics or a Fox News station.
Port Adelaide have got themselves a home preliminary final, outlasting a wasteful Geelong outfit by 16 points at the Adelaide Oval.
It really was a case of what could’ve been for Geelong, after a wasteful first half they were made to pay in the premiership quarter and they couldn’t catch Port in the end.
From the very beginning of the game, the chances Geelong missed came back to haunt them.
Rhys Stanley kicked the first goal of the night before Port piled on the next two.
After this Geelong missed some chances they really could’ve taken by missing three straight shots on goal, so it was Port leading by three points at the first change.
Geelong got off to a shaky start to the second turn. Tom Hawkins missed an easy set shot after a strong mark, missing from within 15 metres.
But at long last Zach Tuohy would snap a goal out of the stoppage, causing relief among the Geelong fans as they regained the lead by four points.
Lachie Henderson made a horrendous blue where he could’ve marked the ball but alas he punched it back towards Port’s goal square and off the ground Steven Motlop kicked the goal to regain a three-point lead for Port.
Hawkins mucked up another kick inside-50 after a strong mark, he played on and missed again.
But with less than 45 seconds left of the half, Joel Selwood would kick a brilliant goal to finally regain the lead for his side.
However, Port were not done for the half.
They got the clearance and Brad Ebbert put it straight through the middle.
So it was an unbelievable first half of footy and somehow with Geelong having ten scoring shots to six, it was Port with a one-point lead after a first half of what could have been for Geelong – many easy missed shots, including 1.6 from set shots.
With their one-point lead, Port would start where they left off in the second half, piling on the next three goals.
All of a sudden Port had kicked four in a row and the Cats looked broken. It was out to 21 points and the home crowd was on their feet and could sense it.
Patrick Dangerfield would, however, give Geelong one last glimmer of hope as he picked up the ball off hands from a contest inside the centre square, ran inside a vacant 50 all the way to the goal square and gave Geelong one last chance with the margin reduced to 14 points at the final change.
It seemed highly unlikely, as Port Adelaide completely dominated the premiership quarter piling on four goals to one.
Hawkins tried to give the Cats a positive start but it was another missed shot from 50 on the boundary line.
Rhys Stanley snapped one through on the bounce and after the review confirmed no-touch we suddenly had a seven-point ballgame, Geelong looked like they were on their knees but they were well and truly alive.
It was not to last long though, as Port responded through Peter Ladhams with a magnificent snap to regain a 13-point lead right as they were being challenged.
Todd Marshall went back from 50 after a mark and all but sealed a preliminary final birth for Port Adelaide with a straight kick putting them out to an 18-point lead and ending all of Geelong’s resistance.
Just to typify their night, with a minute-and-a-half to play Hawkins would mark on the boundary, snap and hit the post.
That summed up a night for the Cats, as Port Adelaide defeated Geelong to reach a home preliminary final for the first time since 2007.
Ollie Wines was on fire with 24 disposals and five tackles while Steven Motlop snagged three goals.
Geelong will now face the winner of the West Coast-Collingwood clash in a sudden-death semi-final next weekend.
But Port are two wins from breaking a 16-year drought and bringing home their club’s second flag.
2.1 4.2 7.4 7.4 9.4 (58)
1.4 3.7 4.8 5.12 (42)
Port: Motlop (three), Ebert (two), Charlie Dixon, Connor Rozee, Marshall, Ladhams
Geelong: Stanley (two), Tuohy, Selwood, Dangerfield