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Comeback Cats end Power's dream run

Highlights: Geelong v Port Adelaide The Cats and Power clash in semi final 2
Paul Chapman of the Cats (left) and Tom Hawkins of the Cats celebrate during the 2013 2nd Semi Final match between the Geelong Cats and Port Adelaide Power at the MCG, Melbourne on September 13, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Goals to Paul Chapman and Tom Hawkins sparked Geelong's third-quarter comeback on Friday night
GEELONG has survived a huge scare from a spirited Port Adelaide to book a preliminary final clash with Hawthorn, overcoming a 23-point half-time deficit to run out 16-point winners at the MCG on Friday night.

The Cats' 13.18 (96) to 12.8 (80) victory was soured after Paul Chapman was reported for rough conduct following a third-quarter bump on Port forward Robbie Gray.

Chapman's contact with Gray was similar to Lance Franklin's bump on Sydney Swan Nick Malceski in round 23 – low impact but head-high – that earned the star Hawk a one-match suspension, sidelining him from Hawthorn's qualifying final win over the Swans.

Chapman would be a massive loss if suspended, having put an injury-plagued season behind him to star for the Cats against the Power with four goals

Geelong coach Chris Scott said he didn't see the incident where Chapman was reported, but added the Cats wouldn't "cry over spilt milk" if the veteran was suspended. 

"Every man and his dog is going to have an opinion on it," Scott said. 

"We'll bite our tongue and do what we need to do in the next couple of days."

The Cats looked uncharacteristically flat in the first half as the Power outmuscled them at the stoppages and spread harder into open space. 

But Geelong looked a different team from the opening bounce of the second half after starting with Steven Motlop, Steve Johnson and James Kelly in attack.

The Cats piled on five goals to one in the premiership quarter to go into three-quarter time seven points up, and looked home when they led by 23 points at the 21-minute mark of the final term.

But two quick goals to Port, the first a spectacular banana from the boundary line by Justin Westhoff, put the Power back within 10 points with nearly three minutes left to play.

Cats skipper Joel Selwood then put on a crucial tackle in the centre to stop another potential Port forward thrust, and Geelong hung on from there for its 10th straight win over the Power, a streak that began with its 119-point win over Port Adelaide in the 2007 Grand Final. 

Steve Johnson (25 possessions and two goal assists) was one of the catalysts for the Cats' comeback win, along with Motlop (25 possessions and two goals) and Mathew Stokes (28 possessions), who had 14 touches in the game-changing third term.

James Kelly (28 possessions) and Selwood (27 possessions and one goal) did a power of work through the midfield for the Cats, while Tom Lonergan kept Jay Schulz to two goals.

However, Tom Hawkins was quiet in his return from his lingering back injury, kicking two goals and taking just three marks (all uncontested).

Scott put the Cats' slow start down to their poor ball use and the ease with which they allowed Port to create free players and hit the scoreboard, saying the Cats had played some of their worst football of the year over the last three weeks

"We needed to fix a few structural issues. They looked really dangerous rebounding the ball; too often when the ball went into a contest they won it and had free players everywhere," Scott said.

"It's pretty simple. We needed to close them down in the second half to turn that around. 

"And to play some of our best footy is really exciting thing for next week."

A week after upsetting Collingwood, Port lost no friends with a performance that suggests its young list has a bright future.

Power coach Ken Hinkley said after the match he was proud of his team's effort. 

"I've been proud of our year, our commitment to keep on turning up and keep on challenging whoever's next and just having a crack," Hinkley said.
"They certainly did that again tonight.
"Early, we were right in the game. Obviously at half-time we talked and we knew the Geelong surge was going to come … we just couldn't hold up as much as we wanted to.
"Their numbers and their run and their willingness to share the ball around and change the angles was pretty hard to control."

Westhoff (three goals and 19 possessions) worked extraordinarily hard at both ends of the ground, while captain Travis Boak (26 possessions) led from the front and was well supported by Matthew Broadbent (23 possessions and one goal) and Kane Cornes (21).

The contest looked set to stick to a predictable script when the Cats jumped out to a 12-point lead at the 18-minute mark of the first term.

To that point, Chapman had kicked the only two goals of the match, and Port's skill level had yet to catch up with its commendable pressure.

However, the Power then started to find their targets and piled on the last three goals of the term to go into quarter-time six points up.

Port carried that momentum into the second quarter, beating the hardened Cats in the clinches and running them off their feet in the open. 

The Power translated their dominance onto the scoreboard with a four-goals-to-one term that sent them into half-time 23 points up and in pole position to pull off their second major finals upset in as many weeks.

Justin Westhoff was outstanding up forward for a gallant Port Adelaide. Picture: AFL Media

GEELONG               2.2    3.6    8.12    13.18 (96)
PORT ADELAIDE   3.2    7.5    8.5      12.8 (80)

Geelong: Chapman 4, Hawkins 2, Motlop 2, Duncan, Bartel, Corey, Christensen, Selwood
Port Adelaide: Westhoff 3, Schulz 2, Ebert, Monfries, Lobbe, Logan, Gray, Broadbent, Hartlett

Geelong: Chapman, Johnson, Corey, Selwood, Motlop, Kelly
Port Adelaide: Cornes, Moore, Westhoff, Boak, Monfries

Geelong: Jared Rivers (left ankle)
Port Adelaide: Nil

Geelong: Jared Rivers (left ankle) replaced by Taylor Hunt in the final quarter 
Port Adelaide: Sam Colquhoun replaced by Aaron Young at three quarter-time 

Reports: Paul Chapman (Geelong) reported in the third quarter for rough conduct against Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
Umpires: Stevic, Meredith, McInerney  

Official crowd: 52,744 at the MCG