Until this season Port Adelaide’s recent record in the AFL had been ordinary.
Seven years after entering the competition in 1997 Port won the premiership but in subsequent seasons the side has not managed to fulfil the expectations held for a club with such a distinguished history.
Now the Power goes into Friday night’s clash at the Adelaide Oval against defending premiers Richmond with a two win-three loss record in preliminary finals.
The last of these games resulted in a three-point defeat, in 2014, at the hands of the Hawthorn team, which went on to take the flag.
However, the COVID-19 year has proved to be a revelation for Ken Hinkley and his players.
After becoming minor premiers Port Adelaide overcame Geelong by 16 points in the first week of the finals.
The significance of that victory has since been enhanced by Geelong’s humbling of Collingwood in the semi-finals.
On that basis Power, particularly with the home ground/crowd advantages, can enter the confrontation with confidence.
As the price assessors understand the Tigers cannot be under-rated and the odds of $1.90 each seems to be a fair representation of the situation.
But if it wasn’t for Richmond’s thoroughly deserved match winning reputation Port Adelaide, on form, would be favourite.
A feature of the side is the contribution from powerhouse full forward Charlie Dixon, who is using his brute strength effectively in attack and, lately, down the ground.
Dixon has always been a focal point for creative players such as Brad Ebert, Robbie Gray, Travis Boak and others so he is invaluable.
Sam Powell-Pepper, Tom Jonas, Ryan Burton and Dan Houston have proven themselves as ball winners and their job will, primarily, be to limit the scoring chances of Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt.
Lynch’s return was an important factor in Richmond’s win over St. Kilda in the semi-finals with his speed and marking ability being very hard to combat.
Riewoldt, who is playing more of a team role, is always busy and springs into action when most needed as do other Tigers led by Dustin Martin, who, admittedly, is not putting four quarters together.
Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards were outstanding in defence against the Saints and can be relied upon again.
Toby Nankervis fulfilled his role in the ruck and around the ground so he is headed for an interesting battle with Scott Lycett, who is tireless.
The ruck duels in the preliminary final between Brisbane and Geelong at The Gabba on Saturday night will be vital with Stefan Martin and Oscar McInerney pitted against Rhys Stanley.
Stanley clearly outpointed Magpie Brodie Grundy last week so he can be expected to at least hold his own against the Brisbane pair.
While the Cats completely crushed Collingwood the winning margin of 68 points was obviously flattering.
The Magpies were tired and listless from the opening bounce.
They offered hardly any resistance – as their three-quarter time score of 1.1 proves – to Patrick Dangerfield and company.
Dangerfield, who must be one of the best players in VFL/AFL history, has his sights set on a premiership, which has eluded him so far in his career and he will be a major challenge for the Lions.
Cats captain Joel Selwood is always in the fray and even though not winning many kicks whatever Gary Ablett does is high class.
It is likely Daniel Rich, who has been a mainstay in defence for Brisbane, will be given the task of coping with Ablett.
Although not in the Dangerfield stratosphere – few are – Brisbane has its own driving force in Lachie Neale and it is doubtful whether the Cats will be able to stop him winning a lot of the ball.
Lions captain Dayne Zorko has been steadily lifting his game and will be dangerous and it will assist the Brisbane cause if Charlie Cameron and Eric Hipwood can lift their games against the tight Geelong defensive group.
Port Adelaide by 10pts
Brisbane by 6pts