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The 2020 AFL Finals begin tonight in South Australia, as minor premiers the Port Adelaide Power face the Geelong Cats. Join The Roar for live coverage, with live scores and a blog of the match, from 7:40pm (AEST).
The Power finished on top of the ladder for the first time since their 2004 premiership-winning season. In the condensed season, they managed to win 14 of 17 games, although one of those losses – the heaviest of the trio, and their most recent defeat – was against the Cats, with the Victorians demolishing a subpar Power outfit on a warm August Friday night in Queensland.
That loss did precipitate a run of good form which allowed Port to retain top spot on the ladder, but it will no doubt be lingering within the Power’s mind.
Geelong, too, have been in good form since that August clash, winning four from five, their only slip-up being a loss to Richmond. The Cats did have to weather a worryingly close clash against Sydney to secure the double chance though.
Those desiring a high-scoring contest are likely to get one – both Geelong and Port rank well for total scores and goals-per-game. The top two players in the Coleman Medal stakes, too, represent these teams: Tom Hawkins and Charlie Dixon have kicked a combined 74 goals this year, and will be relying on the backing of strong midfields to provide service.
Whoever gets on top in the middle – as the Cats did so powerfully during their last encounter, smashing Port in all major possession statistics – should be win this clash.
Neither of tonight’s sides have fresh injury concerns, but both have nonetheless made some changes. The Power have regained young gun Zac Butters (back from a suspension) and defenders Tom Clurey and Ryan Burton. That latter duo replaces fellow defensive pair Riley Bonner and Jarrod Leinert, with youngster Boyd Woodcock also missing out.
The Cats have dropped Esava Ratugolea and former Saint Jack Steven, with Rhys Stanley and Tom Atkins returning to the side after long injury lay-offs.
Geelong’s stunning record against Port is bound to be a big talking point – the South Australians have won just two encounters against the Cats since 2007, neither of which was a final.
That and the big victory earlier this year do make the Cats an appealing tip, but the Power are at home in Adelaide, will have a raucous crowd behind them and have too much belief right now. They’ll win a close one.
Port by ten points
Opening bounce: 7:40pm (AEST)
Venue: Adelaide Oval
TV: Fox Sports, Seven
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel, AFL Live Pass, 7Plus
B: R. Burton, T.McKenzie, D.Houston
HB: H.Harlett, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-Jones
C: X.Duursma, O.Wines, K.Amon
HF: Z.Butters, T.Marshall, B.Ebert
F: C.Rozee, C.Dixon, R.Gray
FOLL: S.Lycett, T.Rockliff, T.Boak
I/C: S.Powell-Pepper, S.Motlop, T.Clurey, P.Ladhams
B: J.Bews, H.Taylor, J.Kolodjashnij
HB: L.Henderson, M.Blicavs, T.Stewart
C: Z.Tuohy, J.Selwood, S.Menegola
HF: L.Dahlhaus, G.Rohan, M.Duncan
F: M.O’Connor, T.Hawkins, G.Ablett
FOLL: R.Stanley, P.Dangerfield, C.Guthrie
I/C: J.Henry, T.Atkins, B.Parfitt, G.Miers