Port Adelaide has clinched the minor premiership with a solid win over Collingwood at the Gabba in the final game of the home and away season.
- For the third time in AFL history, Port Adelaide has finished first and Brisbane second on the ladder after the home-and-away season
- Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury broke a club record with his 314th AFL appearance, but ended up on the losing side against Port Adelaide
- The Power will host Geelong at Adelaide Oval in week one of finals, while Collingwood will travel to Perth to face West Coast
The Power have led the ladder for the entire season, but the pressure was on with Brisbane poised to finish top if Ken Hinkley’s men slipped up.
Despite being challenged hard early, Port Adelaide steadied in the third quarter to take control before running out winners by 9.7 (61) to 7.3 (45).
This is the fourth time the Power have taken the minor premiership — on two of those occasions (2002 and 2004), they finished first ahead of the Lions in second.
The last time they finished top, they went on to win the flag — against Brisbane.
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.
Tom Rockliff’s 30-disposal, 10-clearance display for Port Adelaide was a highlight at the Gabba.
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, the Magpies 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.