AAP3 Minute Read
Greater Western Sydney vice-captain Stephen Coniglio has sparked a 23-point victory over Port Adelaide to send the Giants into an AFL preliminary final.
Coniglio produced a first-half masterclass and Jesse Hogan slotted four goals in GWS’s stirring 13.15 (93) to 9.16 (70) semi-final triumph.
Coniglio inspired a five-goal blitz in 10 golden minutes in the second quarter at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night as the Giants book a preliminary final against flag favourites Collingwood.
Port exit the finals with consecutive losses, as did fellow top-four outfit Melbourne on Friday night.
Coniglio, who missed last week’s elimination final triumph against St Kilda because of an eye injury, collected 22 disposals, kicked a goal, and had five clearances and eight score involvements to halftime.
The ex-skipper finished with 30 disposals and two majors while fellow stalwarts Lachie Whitfield (33 disposals), Josh Kelly (19, two goals), Tom Green (29) and Callan Ward (24) were other standouts.
Hogan and captain Toby Greene (three goals) were attacking menaces and defenders Sam Taylor and Jack Buckley were superb.
Port’s Willie Rioli dazzled with three goals, Zak Butters had 25 touches and Dan Houston 22, while Travis Boak collected 21 disposals in what could be the 35-year-old’s last game.
All Australian skipper Greene and Rioli potted two goals each in a free-flowing first term with the Giants ahead 4.4 to 4.1 at quarter time.
The Power hit the front via a Willem Drew left-footer but GWS responded with the match-defining burst: 5.1 to 0.1 in a 10-minute purple patch.
The Giants stunned the 45,250-strong pro-Port crowd, creating a match-high 33-point break before leading by 29 at halftime, 9.11 to 5.6.
The advantage should have been greater: after the five consecutive majors, the visitors scored six successive behinds in a period of complete domination.
Adding injury to insult for the Power, they lost ruckman Scott Lycett to a right ankle ailment.
Port’s Rioli crumbed a goal to opening third-quarter scoring and the hosts were within 18 points some 15 minutes into the term.
But the Giants, with Conigilo adding another major, then rallied but were again cruelled by inaccuracy.
In their wayward stretch, GWS added 2.9 but still held a 26-point three quarter-time buffer, 11.15 to 8.7.
The Power issued a last-ditch press but couldn’t cash in, kicking 1.4 to sneak 16 points down with 10 minutes remaining.
But GWS forward Jake Riccardi snapped Port’s spirit with a long-range set-shot from near a boundary line before skipper Greene rubber-stamped victory with his third goal.
GWS last played a preliminary final in 2019 when they stunned Collingwood by four points, only to lose the grand final by 89 points to Richmond.