FORGET the 'flat-track'. This was just a flat-out bullying.
Questioned for its record against the best sides in the AFL, Port Adelaide was always confident that when it mattered this year it would deliver and in its commanding 43-point win over Geelong in Friday night's qualifying final, the Power's point was proved.
The 12.14 (86) to 5.13 (43) win puts Ken Hinkley's men straight through to their second consecutive preliminary final after backing up last year's qualifying final win over the Cats. In one hit the win absolutely registered them as a flag favourite, rocketed them into the final four and dispelled any doubts of their capacity against the best sides.
While the Power are now one win from their first Grand Final since 2007, the questions will come for Geelong. The Cats will again need to go the long way if they are to salute for this year's premiership after losing their first final for the fifth successive season and three of their past four games, putting in their lowest score of the season in the biggest game so far.
Port Adelaide is known for its flair but its Adelaide Oval victory was far more ferocious than that: the Power smothered Geelong around the ball with relentless pressure, stood up in the big moments and looked the most experienced finals team in the eye and kept running.
POWER v CATS Full match coverage and stats
Orazio Fantasia was electric. The former Bomber returned from his hamstring injury to boot four goals in one of the games of his career in his first finals win, before being substituted out of the game with a knee problem in the final term.
Ollie Wines (32 disposals) was magnificent in the midfield, Travis Boak (32) and Karl Amon (25) were also important, while Aliir Aliir's dominant first half catapulted the Power into ascendancy.
Geelong was off the pace throughout. Mitch Duncan (32 disposals) and Isaac Smith (23) were honest, but little else went right for the Cats, with their defenders battling to contain Port's frenetic movement. After combining for 12 goals last time the sides played, 300-gamer Tom Hawkins (two goals), Jeremy Cameron (one) and Gary Rohan (none) had no say on the game.
Aliir was a big reason for that, hauling in four marks in a dominant aerial performance in the first term to set things up. Two of his grabs led directly to goals – one to Peter Ladhams and another for Fantasia – as Port took a 10-point lead into the first change.
Duncan took no time to settle back into the action in his first game since round 14, with the Geelong star finding a game-high 14 disposals and four rebound-50s as a settling presence.
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Fantasia was on fire, slotting a second goal in the next term to stretch out Port's lead to 25 points. He was representative of the difference between the sides: Port was slick, quick and penetrating while the Cats struggled to find their rhythm pushing forward.
Their disorganised set up was never clearer than when Zak Butters got free inside 50 in the final minute of the half and put the Power 29 points up at the main break.
The Cats tried some things in the third term, including stationing Gary Rohan in defence as his finals struggles continued, but it didn't click as they were kept goalless. Port's intensity rose further, with Butters' front-on tackle of Cameron, and then more tough work from Xavier Duursma, epitomising their approach.
When Fantasia slotted another snap to kickstart the fourth term, Port Adelaide had sealed its preliminary spot, with a bigger prize in sight.
PORT ADELAIDE 4.3 8.7 9.10 12.14 (86)
GEELONG 2.5 3.8 3.11 5.13 (43)
Port Adelaide: Fantasia 4, Motlop 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Butters, Gray, Ladhams, Marshall
Geelong: Hawkins 2, Cameron, Selwood, Simpson
Port Adelaide: Boak, Aliir, Fantasia, Wines, Duursma, Byrne-Jones
Geelong: Duncan, Smith, Dangerfield, Henry, Parfitt
Port Adelaide: Fantasia (knee), Gray (ankle)
Geelong: O'Connor (hamstring)
Port Adelaide: Powell-Pepper (replaced Fantasia in the fourth quarter)
Geelong: Higgins (replaced O'Connor in the second quarter)