The preview below are written by FootyTalk.com.au
Its hard to rationalise that Port won a Premiership only 3 years ago, and have spent a year pushing it uphill to rebuild it’s side. Choco Williams deserves a hell of a lot of credit for what he has been able to do. Similarly Bomber Thompson deserves kudos for having his side refocus after a deplorable 2006 during which he almost lost the players and his job.
This game could be anything – from a close tussle to an absolute blowout. The only history they have this year that is of any relevance is the close “last kick” victory to Port a few weeks ago down at Sleepy Hollow. I really wouldn’t put too much stock in that game though because Geelong was without some of its bigger names and this game will be played on a different level.
The main 4 for Port will have a huge bearing on this game. The Chad, The Brother and The Other Brothers have been the driving force for the Power most of the year and you would imagine that they will be again this year. The other big name that is slowly coming into his own is Danyle Pearce and his last month or so is reminiscent of his NAB Rising Star victory last year.
Ling probably SHOULD take The Chad, although Williams might throw in a smokey and have The Chad running with Bartel. This may possibly free up another midfielder like Burgoyne to run free.
I wouldn’t expect Williams to try and tag Gary Ablett as well. I reckon he would feel his own midfielders are sufficiently skilled not to have to try and negate all of Geelong’s matchwinners so expect a pretty free-flowing game from Port’s point of view.
Port’s forward line is crucial to the result. Ebert and Westhoff have been off the boil lately, and Tredders is still suffering from knee soreness. This could well play into Thompson’s hands as Scarlett will not have to play in the last line. This could free him up to run off Tredders and create a lot of space and ball down around half-forward. Harley will probably take Westhoff in that eventuality, and Milburn or possibly Hunt lining up on Ebert.
Down the other end, Nathan Ablett is surprisingly under a cloud and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him left out, especially in the rain. S. Johnston is an unknown quantity and I would expect Cassisi to take him and try to take his influence out of the game.
Chaplin will probably get Mooney and it may be a case of Port being suitably matched up with no real mismatches up there. Geelong may find it very hard to score if Chapman and S. Johnson don’t get heavily involved in the game. Probably expect Surjan to run with Chapman. Chappy is due for a big one and he will go very close to winning the Norm Smith.
The rucks should balance themselves out without either team getting a real advantage. This will mean the clearances are vitally important and as Geelong is the best clearance side in the competition, you’d expect that Ablett, Bartel, Corey, Enright and Wojcinski will get a lot of opportunities to deliver the ball down forward.
I think Geelong will win but about 3 goals but won’t be shocked if Port causes and upset.
Chappy for the Norm Smith.