PORT ADELAIDE confirmed a berth in a home preliminary final with a workman-like win over Geelong in the second qualifying final on Friday night.

It was close to Port Adelaide’s most complete performance for the season against a serious premiership contender.

Here are some key things we learned from the 43-point win at Adelaide Oval.

1) Streak continues

Port Adelaide’s win over Geelong was its seventh victory in a row, dating back to its Round 18 win over St Kilda. It has beaten the Saints, Collingwood, GWS, Adelaide, Carlton, the Western Bulldogs and now the Cats during the streak. Port has previously enjoyed a seven-game winning streak ending in the 2004 Premiership win over Brisbane, but it has also won eight games in a row previously in 2002 (Round 8 – Round 15) and in 2014 (Round 4 – Round 12). To win the premiership, Port would have to set a new record for its best winning streak ever of nine games.

2) Curious case of centre clearances

Port Adelaide is renowned as a clearance team and a side that gets results when it wins the vital clearance and contested possession statistic. It was curious then that Port Adelaide trailed 12-0 in centre clearances to three quarter time but was leading by 35 points. The Power’s first centre clearance came in the first 20 seconds of the last quarter and resulted in Orazio Fantasia’s fourth goal. The final ledger read 15-3 in the centre clearance statistic and 36-30 in clearances overall. While it is nice to know Port can find other ways to win, coach Ken Hinkley would not want to see a repeat in a preliminary final.

3) Gray’s last quarter streak ends

Last week in WWL, we shared a statistic identified by @sirswampthing on Twitter that Robbie Gray’s last seven scores in the fourth quarters of games in 2021 had been goals. That streak ended against the Cats when in the sixth minute of the last term he scored a behind from a set shot. It mattered little as Port held a handy lead at that point.

02:46 Mins
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Game Film: Qualifying Final | PTV

Take a cinematic look at our Qualifying Final win over Geelong.

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4) Taking the game away from the Cats

Geelong has become known for liking to have plenty of uncontested possessions and marks. It likes to control the tempo of the game and dominate the ball. Against Port Adelaide, the Cats took just 76 marks, well down on its 103.7 mark per game average this season. It also had just 179 uncontested possessions, again well down on its average of 242.4 in 2021. Port’s high-pressure, high tempo game meant Geelong could not play the way it wanted. For the record Port had 148 marks (down on its 155.3 average) and 232 uncontested possessions (up on its 229.1 average).  Port has now played Geelong in five finals for three wins including consecutive Qualifying Finals. The Power has not played any other side more than three times in AFL finals. It has taken on North Melbourne, Collingwood and Brisbane three times each, beating the Kangaroos twice and the other sides once each.

5) Smalls do the damage

In 2021, all the talk has been about Port Adelaide’s tall forwards banging in goals with much debate about whether two, three or four of Charlie Dixon, Peter Ladhams, Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades can or should play together in the same line-up. With Georgiades absent with a hamstring injury, Port Adelaide stuck with three talls for the Geelong game and instead had an extra small forward. And it paid dividends with small forwards combining for 10 of the side’s 12 goals. Dixon in particular played a vital team role, ensuring he provided a contest in the air and brought the ball to ground to give those smalls an opportunity to do their thing. Orazio Fantasia (four goals), Steven Motlop (two goals), Sam Powell-Pepper (two goals), Zak Butters (one goal) and Robbie Gray (one goal) proved hard to contain. It remains to be seen now whether Georgiades returns in the Preliminary Final if fit, and if so, who makes way.

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Goal of the Week: Qualifying Final | PTV

Charlie Dixon channels his inner Harlem Globetrotter as he feeds the ball, through his legs, to a sharp finishing Steven Motlop

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