AFL pacesetter Port Adelaide has sealed a top-two finish with a 50-point belting of Essendon.
The Power’s 11.13 (79) to 4.5 (29) victory at a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval on Saturday also officially killed off Essendon’s finals chances.
Port, table-toppers since round one, can’t finish lower than second regardless of the result of their last game before the finals.
The Power unleashed a match-defining second-quarter blitz against the hapless Bombers, booting five unanswered goals.
After trailing by five points at quarter-time, Port’s 20-minute scoring spree in the wet was bookended by goals to star forwards Charlie Dixon and Robbie Gray.
Port led 6.7 to 2.1 at halftime and the result was effectively decided before the home side booted five goals to two in a second-half slog.
Power spearhead Dixon finished the game with 2.3, marring his display with a series of missed early shots.
Port’s midfield was dominant with Tom Rockliff relishing the heavy track to collect a game-high 30 disposals and kick a goal.
And his teammates Ollie Wines (28 touches, one goal), Travis Boak (26 possessions, one goal), Connor Rozee (18 touches) and Karl Amon (21 touches) were all influential.
The Power restricted Essendon to 32 inside 50s for the match.
And when the ball did enter, the Bombers’ attack was nullified by a stingy Port defence headed by Hamish Hartlett, Darcy Byrne-Jones and Tom Clurey.
Essendon, before running onto Adelaide Oval, needed a mathematical miracle – and a win – to remain in finals contention.
But they remain stuck on six wins and a draw despite the best efforts of Jordan Ridley (23 disposals), Devon Smith (26 touches), Darcy Parish (20 possessions, nine clearances) and Dylan Shiel (24 disposals).
The Bombers, missing more than a dozen injured frontliners, recorded their lowest score against Port with ace forward Joe Daniher (eight disposals) and Jake Stringer (five touches) both goal-less.
The Power meets Collingwood on the Gold Coast on Monday, September 21 while Essendon’s season – and the coaching tenure of John Worsfold – ends with a clash against Melbourne next Saturday.
(C) AAP 2020
PORT ADELAIDE 1.2 6.7 7.13 11.13 (79)
ESSENDON 2.1 2.3 3.3 4.5 (29)
Goals: Port Adelaide: C Dixon 2 B Ebert O Wines P Ladhams R Gray S Motlop S Powell-Pepper T Boak T Rockliff X Duursma. Essendon: B Ham D Clarke D Parish T Cutler.
Umpires: Leigh Haussen, Curtis Deboy, John Howorth.
Official Crowd: 17,482 at Adelaide Oval.