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Port powers into grand final

17/09/2004 11:12:03 PM Comments (0)

Port Adelaide is into its first ever AFL grand final after beating St Kilda by six points in a heart-stopping preliminary final at AAMI Stadium.

A despairing lunge by Power defender Shaun Burgoyne at the feet of Saint Brent Guerra with less than a minute to play saved a certain goal and preserved a 14.10 (94) to 13.10 (88) victory for the home side.

Port will meet the winner of Saturday night's Brisbane-Geelong preliminary final to decide the 2004 premiership, and after an extraordinary record of success in the SANFL competition, the Power will get a chance to win its first flag in the big time.

Carrying the weight of its 'finals choker' tag into the match, Port started slowly but prevailed in a nerve-wracking second half when the lead changed hands several times and the margin was never more than two goals in either sides' favour.

An amazing snap goal from former captain Gavin Wanganeen put Port six points up after 21 minutes of the final quarter, and they hung on with grim determination in a frantic final few minutes.

It appeared the Saints would draw level at the very death when Guerra - a former Port player - raced toward a loose ball in the goalsquare, only for Burgoyne to dive at full length to block the ball in the manner of a soccer goalkeeper.

Port then soaked up the final seconds until the final siren which sent the home crowd into delirium.

The loss ended an extraordinary season for St Kilda which broke a club-record winning streak to start the season, but who tapered away in the run-in to the finals.

Well aware that Port Adelaide very rarely loses a match when it leads at quarter-time, St Kilda knew it had to begin well to unsettle opponents and silence a 50,000-strong crowd.

They did so, dominating play early and delivering full forward Fraser Gehrig the two goals he needed to bring up 100 for the season within just ten minutes of the first quarter.

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