AFL Round 18 – Collingwood vs. Port Adelaide
AN outstanding Tom Rockliff performance has helped Port Adelaide sew up the AFL minor premiership in the final match of the home-and-away season with a 16-point win over Collingwood.
Rockliff’s 30-disposal, 10-clearance display was a highlight of the Power’s 9.7 (61) to 7.3 (45) victory at the Gabba on Monday night.
The result sealed Port’s first minor premiership since 2004 – the same year they went on to win their first flag in the national competition.
They are also just the third team in the AFL era to sit on top of the ladder the entire way through the home-and-away season, following West Coast in 1991 and Essendon in 2000.
The Power will now host Geelong at Adelaide Oval in a qualifying final, while Collingwood’s loss means they face the daunting task of a trip to Perth to take on West Coast in an elimination final.
Magpies captain Scott Pendlebury starred in his club record-breaking 314th appearance, gathering 23 disposals and seven clearances, while Taylor Adams and Adam Treloar also won plenty of the ball.
But it was Rockliff who fought longest and hardest as Port prevailed in a grinding contest that was largely controlled by the competition’s best two defences.
The Power kicked the opening two goals and Collingwood the next two in a tight first term that was a pointer towards what was to come.
Pendlebury had a big early impact with four clearances in the first quarter but neither side was prepared to open up the field with bold ball movement, instead opting for patient build-up play.
There were four lead changes in the second term and two in the third before Daniel Motlop’s brilliant shot on the outside of his right boot.
Another goal to Sam Powell-Pepper, set up by Robbie Gray, gave Port a 17-point lead.
Big moments went against Collingwood before three-quarter time as Jamie Elliott’s indecision and a free kick against Mason Cox cost them certain goals that could have reduced the margin.
Port dominated centre clearances after half-time and although Collingwood controlled field position in the final term, they couldn’t close the gap on the scoreboard.
Dan Houston (24 disposals, 12 marks) was superb for the Power as Ollie Wines, Travis Boak and Rockliff got to work at the contest.
Gray (25 disposals, seven clearances) showed flashes of brilliance and the defence led by Tom Jonas and Trent Mackenzie held firm.
Motlop and Brad Ebert finished with two goals each in a game where the big forwards struggled to assert themselves.
Brody Mihocek (two) was Collingwood’s only multiple goal kicker.
(C) AAP 2020
PORT ADELAIDE 2.2 5.3 8.7 9.7 (61)
COLLINGWOOD 2.0 4.0 6.1 7.3 (45)
Goals: Port Adelaide: B Ebert 2 S Motlop 2 C Dixon S Powell-Pepper T Marshall T Rockliff X Duursma. Collingwood: B Mihocek 2 A Treloar J de Goey J Elliott J Stephenson L Greenwood.
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Nicholas Foot, Leigh Fisher.
Official Crowd: 5,424 at Gabba.