'Pies Welcome Port Back To Finals

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Sarah Reed
Kane Cornes plays his first AFL final in six years this Saturday night. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Sarah Reed
Last Five Matches

Round 14, 2013 – Port Adelaide 86 d Collingwood 51 at AAMI Stadium
Round 4, 2012 – Collingwood 97 d Port Adelaide 73 at Etihad Stadium
Round 20, 2011 – Collingwood 159 d Port Adelaide 21 at AAMI Stadium
Round 1, 2011 – Collingwood 155 d Port Adelaide 80 at Etihad Stadium
Round 15, 2010 – Collingwood 105 d Port Adelaide 79 at AAMI Stadium


Form

     Rd 19       Rd 20       Rd 21       Rd 22       Rd 23   
Collingwood    W  W  L  W  L
Port Adelaide    W  L  W  L  L

Nathan Buckley admitted Sunday’s second half against North Melbourne was all about rotating his Collingwood players and keeping them fresh, so you probably can’t take much out of that 11-point loss . The Magpies’ form prior to that had been very good with big wins over out-of-form Essendon and West Coast, while their best victory of the season came in the 29-point disposal of Sydney at ANZ Stadium in round 20.

Port Adelaide hardly powered across the line at the end of the premiership season. Their last win came in round 21 when they struggled to beat a Gold Coast side that looked out on its feet in the last few rounds of the campaign. After that a 74-point thumping by Fremantle in Perth was followed by a one-point defeat in the final round to Carlton in what was the last match at AAMI Stadium.

Collingwood star Luke Ball has shaken off a calf injury and will return to the side along with Harry O’Brien, with Jordan Russell and Ben Kennedy dropping out. Port Adelaide has brought in some experience with defender Alipate Carlile, midfielder Hamish Hartlett and forward Robbie Gray included at the expense of Brent Renouf, Lewis Stevenson and Jack Hombsch.


Key Men

(Magpies) Dane Swan – The ball magnet that is Dane Swan has led Collingwood in disposals against Port Adelaide five of the last six times the teams have met. Not surprisingly, the Magpies each and every one of those match-ups. In round 14 this season he was kept to just 23 touches as Port put the clamps on the ‘Pies winning by 35 points at home. If Swan and midfield cohorts cut loose then Power can kiss its season goodbye.

(Power) Kane Cornes – The veteran had a stellar year, but he saved a couple of his best efforts for the big games this season. One of those was the win over the Magpies where he tallied 31 touches, five marks and six tackles. He was Port’s best in the defeat to Carlton last weekend. Power’s tackling pressure in the round 14 win played a massive part in getting the home side over the line, and Cornes will be front and centre in that department on Saturday night.


Prediction

Port was most definitely in a purple patch of form when it accounted for the Magpies mid-season, and without taking too much away from them, Collingwood had a fairly lengthy injury list when they met. Dayne Beams’ return has undoubtedly strengthened the ‘Pies, as has Ben Reid’s permanent move in to the forward line, which has taken some of the defensive attention off Travis Cloke. Port was 2-3 when visiting Victoria this year, although those victories did come over Melbourne and St Kilda, and the latter was by just five points over a dismal Saints side. Overall Port was 4-6 travelling interstate. Collingwood was 9-5 at the MCG this year and their record against Power is impressive; the Magpies have won nine of their past 11 clashes and the loss earlier this season was the first since 2007. Collingwood is hitting form at the right time of year whereas Port seems to have run its race just making the finals. Collingwood by 29 points .

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