Port Adelaide’s prized recruits Aliir Aliir and Orazio Fantasia have led a 43-point torching of an injury-hit Geelong in their AFL qualifying final.
Aliir’s defensive mastery and four-goal Fantasia propelled Port to a resounding 12.14 (86) to 5.13 (43) win on Friday night at Adelaide Oval.
The Power secure a home preliminary final after a weekend off, while the Cats are pitched into sudden-death mode.
Geelong’s task is compounded by losing utility Mark O’Connor, who was substituted because of a left hamstring injury.
Backman Jed Bews also had his right thigh strapped but played on as the Cats lost an away qualifying final to Port for the second-straight season.
Port’s dynamic duo Travis Boak (32 disposals) and Ollie Wines (32 touches) were instrumental while winger Karl Amon (25 possessions) offered great drive.
In defence, ex-Sydney Swan Aliir was superb — 11 intercept possessions, seven marks and a presence that filled Port’s defensive zone.
And in attack, ex-Essendon goalsneak Fantasia — who was substituted in the last term and had an ice-pack placed on his left knee — frazzled Geelong’s defence.
Steven Motlop booted two goals, both stemming from defensive blunders from big Cat Lachie Henderson, while smalls Robbie Gray, and Zak Butters and talls Peter Ladhams and Todd Marshall all scored majors.
Geelong on-baller Mitch Duncan defied his 10-week layoff because of a knee injury, returning with aplomb to collect a team-high 32 disposals.
But the Cats’ attacking aces, 300-gamer Tom Hawkins (two goals) and Jeremy Cameron (one goal) were well held while a scoreless Gary Rohan was shifted to defence after being shown up by Aliir.
Wingman Isaac Smith (23 disposals), Brandan Parfitt (21) and roaming forward Brad Close (17) were solid but big guns Patrick Dangerfield (23), Joel Selwood (16) and Cam Guthrie (17) were subdued.
The Cats slipped behind when Port booted two late goals in the opening quarter — both from chains of play created by an Aliir intercept mark.
The All Australian backman produced a powerhouse first term, plucking four marks among five intercept possessions.
Port made a match-defining surge in the second quarter, booting four goals to one. By half-time the Cats were 29 points down and had lost O’Connor to injury.
Port strangled the Cats into submission in the third quarter with Fantasia scoring the sole goal for a 35-point lead at the last change.
The former Bomber added another just 20 seconds into the last term before substitute Sam Powell-Pepper triggered celebrations with two late goals.