Stephen Coniglio gets past Connor Rozee during the semi-final between GWS and Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on September 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IT WAS the 11-minute burst from Greater Western Sydney that sunk Port Adelaide's season and humbled its midfield stars, sending the Power out of September in straight sets after a season that promised so much. 

With young guns Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis in the middle, the Power onballers got a beating of the highest order as the Giants piled on five unanswered goals and put the crucial gap in the game that paved the path for the club's fourth appearance in a preliminary final.  

POWER v GIANTS Full match coverage and stats

From the three-minute mark of the second term to the 14th, the Giants turned a three-point deficit into a 28-point lead in a fearsome running style that has turned them from a finals wildcard to a legitimate contender. 

Young bull Tom Green was a star on the inside, Josh Kelly was damaging in the front half, and tough veteran Callan Ward was playing like a younger version of himself. But it was the returning Stephen Coniglio, who had 22 disposals to half-time, who was the architect. 


Collectively, they won the clearances 29-12 to the main break and the contested ball 81-63, with the Giants racking up 78 more disposals to half-time. The disposal and clearance differentials represented the Power's worst results in a half this season, and it came with their year on the line. 

The scoreboard impact was there, with the Giants kicking seven first-half goals from stoppages and 31 more points than their opponents. It could have been so much worse, too, with the Giants following up their 11-minute burst with a run of five missed shots.  

"That's not normally how we score or what we rely on to win games, but the last two weeks really we've been able to score from stoppage, which has been really nice for us," coach Adam Kingsley said.

"And it's nice timing coming into finals, we're not solely relying on our turnover game to score. We're adding the stoppage game, which makes us even more of a threat."


As Coniglio and co did their best work, Butters, Rozee and Horne-Francis collectively went without a clearance in the second quarter, combining for 14 disposals and four contested possessions. 

Butters and Horne-Francis would fight back at different stages in the second half, and the margin was briefly cut to as low as 18 points in the third quarter, but the Power had been left with far too much to do after that match-defining burst. 

While the Power were beaten all over the ground, the midfield group will be particularly stung by its September performances after also lowering its colours against Brisbane in week one and losing the scores from stoppage indicator (-42) convincingly. 

Coach Ken Hinkley described Saturday night' second quarter as "unacceptable".

On the midfielders' efforts, he said: "I just think they weren’t clean enough when they got their hands on the ball. They’ve been able to get in and out of traffic quite quickly as a group, (but) tonight they weren’t able to sustain or be clean enough when they took that ball."

The Giants, meanwhile, are gaining busloads of admirers as the weeks pass this September, and they now enter a Friday night preliminary final against Collingwood as the definition of an 'anywhere, anytime' team. 

In a rematch of the 2019 preliminary final that they won by four points to progress to their first and only Grand Final, the Giants will have nothing to lose. 

While the Pies spent much of 2023 playing the most feared style, there is a case now that the Giants have been that team in September after back-to-back wins on the road against St Kilda and Port Adelaide. 

Green spruiked the 11 venues GWS has won at this season after last week's win at the MCG, and there were smiles and smirks from his teammates as they ran out onto Adelaide Oval to a chorus of boos. 

Winning on the road is now part of this team's story in 2023 and something that clearly motivates and defines them as a group. 

The 'Orange Tsumani' that has been embraced and encouraged by new coach Adam Kingsley is peaking in height at just the right time.