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Port look to keep finals hopes alive against Giants

Sat, Jul 23, 4:46pm by Staff Writer

Port Adelaide v Greater Western Sydney When Port Adelaide were hammered by GWS by 86 points in Round 4, it was widely assumed that their hopes of being a contender for 2016 were over. They have been cut adrift of the eight since then and until last week had not beaten a side currently within the eight in 2016.

But one win over North Melbourne has changed everyone’s perception of the Power and after being as much as $15 to make the finals only last week, were backed to $4.50 to bridge the gap on the Kangaroos.

The Roos’ comfortable win over Collingwood on Friday night has suddenly made Sunday afternoon’s match against GWS a virtual elimination final for the Power. If they lose on Sunday, they will be three games and percentage out of the eight with just five matches remaining.

Their opponents inspire divided reactions among fans and experts. There are those who will say that the Giants are the next dynasty in the AFL, set to take over Hawthorn’s mantle courtesy of their wealth of young players all set to peak at once. And then there are the doubters, who say that a team who has never played a final can not be considered a serious premiership threat this year.

To be fair, that is probably a reflection of the side themselves. They have thrashed teams this year, with seven of their 11 wins coming by more than seven goals. They have defeated Sydney, Hawthorn, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs. But then there are losses to Melbourne and Collingwood.

The Giants travel to the Adelaide Oval, where they have never won, in fact they are 0-5 in the City of Churches with an average losing margin of 43 points. But despite this, they are $1.70 favourites to win this match.

Port Adelaide’s big challenge in this match will be stopping the Giants’ run through the midfield. GWS are a clearance-machine in the middle, leading the AFL clearly in this stat. They have more kicks than any other team and have scored the most goals.

The other stat they dominate is a seemingly meaningless one, bounces. But the +54 advantage over the rest of the comp in this area is a sign of their fondness for the run and carry.

So how to Port Adelaide stop that? Well, the Adelaide rain might help, with 20mm of rain and strong winds predicted, but the Power have rebuilt their season with a blue collar approach in the middle. That has reaped rewards and their two best onballers, Robbie Grey and Travis Boak, had their best games last week.

They have added some experience for this match with Brad Ebert returning along with Jared Polec, while the loss of Charlie Dixon will be felt. His replacement, John Butcher, hasn’t played a senior game this year.

The signs are there that the Power are rediscovering their brand of football and are growing in confidence. As much as last week was a statement game, this is the one when they need to put their reputations on the line. If they lift to the challenge then a fairytale late charge for the eight is still alive, if not, then they might as well turn their focus to 2017 and a drawing board to rebuild a team which has never quite lived up to the hype.

Best Bet: Port Adelaide to win by 1-39 – $2.70

Value Bet: Total Points: Under 168.5 – $1.92

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