PORT ADELAIDE SNATCH BACK WIN FROM GEELONG
By Ben Jensen GEELONG CATS V PORT ADELAIDE POWER PORT ADELAIDE won a thrilling encounter over Geelong between the AFL's top two sides in front of 24,331 fans at Skilled Stadium today, literally winning the game in the last second. Minutes earlier, the Cats overcame a twenty-five point deficit to amazingly edge ahead by just one behind, after a classy goal from Gary Ablett. But after Geelong moved their entire team into Port's half of the ground at the ball-up followed, Port eventually rebounded through Dominic Cassisi. That they were behind all day was no real consolation for the Geelong fans, who minutes earlier had rejoiced as Ablett, who limped from the field with an apparent knee injury in the first quarter, appeared to have won what looked like an unwinnable game.
PORT ADELAIDE 5.2 9.3 13.8 16.10 (106)
PORT ADELAIDE: S Burgoyne 3 B Ebert 3 D Motlop
3 W Tredrea 2 S Salopek 2 J Westhoff 2 D Cassisi
PORT ADELAIDE: S Burgoyne K Cornes B Lade C Cornes
S Salopek T Thurstans
Before the match the Cats lost midfield general, tagger and goalsneak Cameron Ling, who was replaced by a tall in Henry Playfair, named for his first game of the season.
Geelong kicked the first two goals of the match but from then on Port Adelaide dominated. The Cats snatched back the lead just before half time, however, as they did in the third term, Port kicked the final goal to go into half time with the lead by five points.
It Geelong got itself back into the match in the second quarter, it nearly lost it again in the third. Geelong scored just two goals and three behinds, while Port kicked five goals five for a nineteen point lead at the final break. Port kicked the opening two goals, one to rookie Justin Westhoff, the other Daniel Motlop. It wasn't until the eleventh minute that the Cats opened their account for the quarter, Andrew Mackie kicking his first goal at his second attempt.
When Port Adelaide kicked the opening goal of the final quarter in the second minute it looked all over. Brett Ebert's third straight goal seemed to really hurt the Cats although it didn't stop a spirited fightback. The Cats kicked the next two goals, one from the unusually quiet Joel Corey, the other from Steve Johnson, who marked a kick-in from a behind.
Port Adelaide's Daniel Motlop seemed to have put the match beyond Geelong's reach when he kicked his third goal, the margin jumping back out to nineteen points. But the Cats weren't done yet; Steve Johnson slotted through a very difficult shot from on the boundary line in front of the Port Adelaide cheer squad (with about ten natural teeth amoung them) at the twenty-fourth minute mark. Paul Chapman kicked his one goal for the day the very next minute, the margin now back to just six points. In between, Shannon Byrnes continued to raise the ire of Geelong fans, missing an easy shot from fourty metres out with very little angle to speak of, on the right side for a left-footer.
Andrew Mackie could have leveled the scores with about four minutes to go, but missed, the deficit now cut to five points. Cameron Mooney should have been awarded a mark or free kick in the forward pocket but his appeals were turned down. Instead it was Gary Ablett to work some family magic. Brad Ottens lost out in a ruck duel but kept on fighting. Down on his hands and knees, Ottens handpassed the ball to Ablett. Starring at two opponents, Ablett baulked one way then the other, all in the space of 1metre, before barging his way between the pair of them. He then evaded a third before calmly but assertively booting his only goal of the way to put his team one point up.
At the next ball-up Geelong emulated what favourite son Garry 'Buddha' Hocking got pilloried for over in the West - all eighteen players started in Port Adelaide's half of the ground. For the next two minutes and twenty seconds it worked. Brad Ottens took two crunch marks, but eventually was hurried up by the umpire. History will show the Cats lost possession around the fifty-metre line, Henry Playfair handballing straight to an opponent. Port Adelaide's Dominic Cassisi, who chased Gary Ablett around all day, found himself on his wrong side and starring at a Geelong player. But he amazingly slotted the goal through, from over fourty metres out, the ball easily clearing Geelong skipper Tom Harley on the goal-line.
Next Saturday night Geelong travel to Brisbane to face the Lions. Jimmy Bartel is almost certain to miss but Cameron Ling and Joel Selwood should return. Brisbane's Chris Scott is set to play his farewell game after making his comeback from a two year absence on Saturday night in Adelaide.
On Sunday at Port Melbourne's TEAC Oval, the VFL side, the Bendigo Bank Cats, play Richmond affiliate Coburg in the second qualifying final. Win and the Cats head straight into the Preliminary Final, a scenario that the AFL team will face the weekend after next.
FINALLY be sure to check out the Geelong Football Club's finals ticketing arrangements:
GEELONG 4.7 8.8 13.13 17.18 (120)
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