By ZAC MILBANK
Port Adelaide overcame inefficiency and inaccuracy to run over the top of Adelaide for a 30-point Qualifying Final win at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
Leading by just three points at the final change, the Magpies booted 5.4 to the Crows’ 1.1 to finally earn the scoreboard pressure they craved earlier in the evening.
With talented ruckman Peter Ladhams superb, captain Cam Sutcliffe quelling key Crow Pat Wilson and Trent McKenzie controlling the back half, Port ended up having far too many difference-makers as the plucky Crows began to waver.
”We knew if we stuck with it the floodgates would open if we kept bringing the heat with our tackling pressure,” Ladhams, who had 23 disposals, 23 hit outs and two goals, told Channel 7 after the match.
”Something I’ve lacked is confidence but the players and coaches have given me the confidence this year to take my game to the next level which is good.”
Entering the contest as warm favourites, the Magpies were on the back foot early when Adelaide kicked three of the first four goals of the game as Chayce Jones, Shane McAdam and Darcy Fogarty all got on the goal scorers list.
But Port was able to draw level at the first change as ruckman Sam Hayes marked a nice pass from Marty Frederick before converting his 40m set shot.
It was a rare passage of efficient footy for the Pies as they then found themselves trailing the Crows by a goal midway through the second stanza despite dominating the inside 50m count by 26 to 12.
A moment of Ladhams brilliance put his team up by two goals at the main change, with the former Redleg pouncing on the loose ball before finishing at speed from 40m as seen in the clip below.
Adelaide was dealt a huge blow before a ball was bounced when ruckman Kieran Strachan was unable to front due to concussion, resulting in Elliot Himmelberg and even Fogarty attending the centre bounces.
It didn’t stop Heath Younie’s charges from showing plenty of promise though, as bright young stars Jones, Lachlan Sholl and Ned McHenry displayed a positive eye to the future.
And Crows development players Tom Hutchesson, Jordan Boyle and Matt Merrett were contributing strongly to ensure their team was within a straight kick with just a quarter to play.
Port sprang to life to start the fourth term as former Brisbane Lion Sam Mayes slotted his third major to give his side an 11-point lead.
Then lively Magpies forward Tobin Cox unearthed his set shot radar to boot his second after a series of misses in the third term ensured he would finish with 2.5 for the match.
And by the time North Adelaide premiership teenager Boyd Woodcock celebrated his two final term majors in style, the Magpies were well on the way toward booking a date with Glenelg in next Sunday’s Second Semi-Final.
Adelaide will now face Norwood in the First Semi-Final, with Strachan’s return in the ruck a much-needed boost in order to face Redlegs giant Sam Baulderstone.
PORT 3.1 6.3 7.9 12.13 (85)
ADELAIDE 3.1 4.3 7.6 8.7 (55)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Port: Drew 32, Trengove 29, Atley, Sutcliffe 28, McKenzie 27, Ladhams 23, Farrell 22, Mayes 21, Lienert 18, Marshall 17.
Adelaide: Otten, Sholl 24, Seymour 22, Wright 20, Wilson 19, Merrett 18, Himmelberg 17.
GOALS – Port: Mayes 3, Cox, Ladhams, Woodcock 2, Hayes, Lienert.
Adelaide: Boyle, Stengle 2, Fogarty, Jones, McAdam, Press.
UMPIRES – Theron Philp, Mitch Harris, Tom Bryce