Jake Riccardi clenches his fists in celebration

Five quick hits — Coniglio leads a crushing Giants win as Power’s midfield crumbles under pressure

GWS have booked a preliminary final date with Collingwood after a commanding win over Port Adelaide, where a returning superstar stole the show as the Power’s gun midfield was taken apart.

Here are five quick hits from the Giants’ stirring win.

1. Coniglio returns and takes over

It was impressive how well GWS’s midfield coped without Stephen Coniglio last week, to the point where his return to the side might have been a little undersold.

The former captain quickly set things right against Port Adelaide. Coniglio was absolutely everywhere as the Giants ran rampant on Adelaide Oval.

Each of GWS’s midfield brigade brings something different, but there’s a grace to Coniglio’s play that makes him as watchable as any player in the league.

Crucially, at his best, Coniglio hits the scoreboard. Two goals on this night capped off a best on ground performance from a player who is in the midst of a career-best year, and is peaking at just the right time.

2. Toby picks his moments

It wasn’t Toby Greene’s biggest night, but as ever the skipper picked his moments.

It was Greene who got the Giants up and running with their first two goals of the game, and it was Greene who held his nerve when so many others had flinched to kick the match-sealing goal at the end.

Toby Greene kicked the Giants’ first two goals of the night.(Getty Images: James Elsby/AFL Photos)

His leadership has elevated with each passing week, and as the climax of this season approaches it really does feel like Greene is yet to have his final say.

There’s every chance he’ll be running around next to Brayden Maynard on Friday night. The MCG might not be big enough to contain that clash.

3. Lord lets opportunity pass

There was a moment in the third quarter where the Port Adelaide comeback felt real.

The Power had no business being as close as they were at that point, but as Ollie Lord lined up his shot on goal there was a chance to bring the margin back to two even goals.

The crowd was begging for something to get up for, and here it was on a plate for an emerging forward who had hit the scoreboard only moments earlier.

But Lord’s kick was wayward. And within 60 seconds, the ball was in the hands of Coniglio at the other end who wouldn’t make the same mistake.

Port Adelaide were never so close again.

4. Chances slip by, until Riccardi’s bomb ices it

The second half of this game was characterised by poor kicking at goal from both teams. Whichever way the result fell, the losing team could point to inaccuracy as a key factor in their defeat.

In the end, Port Adelaide had a realistic avenue to victory, had they simply converted some second-half chances. After Charlie Dixon kicked the first goal of the last quarter, there was a run of four straight Port Adelaide behinds when they desperately needed a goal.

Jake Riccardi clenches his fists in celebration

Jake Riccardi’s brilliant finish from the boundary iced the game for GWS.(Getty Images: Sarah Reed)

As frustration grew, it fell to Jake Riccardi to suck the life out of the Power with a magnificent set shot from tight to the boundary and 45 metres out.

After so many far easier chances had been left behind, to see the first GWS half-chance taken was enough to break Port’s spirits.

5. A crushing clearance domination

Port Adelaide have a very good midfield, with some very good players. They were made to look second-rate at times on Saturday night.

In a second-quarter bloodbath, the Power’s midfield was beaten down so badly by their Giants counterparts that it was getting hard to watch.

Gun players like Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Dan Houston couldn’t get near the football or their opponents, and in a 10-minute burst saw the game slip away.

Brent Daniels of GWS dives for a ball as Port Adelaide's Ollie Wines pursues during an AFL semifinal.

Port Adelaide’s midfield was completely shut down by the Giants.(Getty Images: Mark Brake)

What Ken Hinkley does to avoid such embarrassments next year will be one of the big questions that surrounds Port Adelaide.

The defence is set to be bolstered by the arrivals of Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Esava Ratugolea, if trades can be arranged, but it’ll take more than a few fresh faces to turn Port into a genuine flag threat.



Author: Russell White