Port Adelaide were just six points from first place, and had the same amount of wins as the fourth-placed Giants, although GWS had two draws to their name. That said, they only had two more wins than the Demons who missed the finals entirely. 2017 was an all-around slog. It was anyone’s to take.
All of this meant that on the Saturday night of the first week of finals, the West Coast Eagles would be coming to town. Just two nights after the Crows and demolished the Giants at the Adelaide Oval, the Power would get their chance to show that they too were in with a sniff.
It didn’t look good. With 10 minutes left in the second quarter, the Eagles led by 31 points. The team from the west had won on five of their last six trips to the Oval. Matt Priddis looked like he had no business retiring, Jack Darling was too big, too strong.
Then the Power turned it on. Charlie Dixon kicked a goal. Then Robbie Gray, then Brad Ebert from 60. Then Chad Wingard, they were breathing down their necks. Ollie Wines put them in front, then Sam Powell-Pepper pushed the lead.
The Eagles played like veterans, they kept their cool, they regained the lead, Jeremy McGovern was a giant.
With five minutes remaining, Travis Boak kicked a behind that would have been goal of the year had it not hit the post. From there it was sloppy and intense. At the siren the scores were level. For just the third time in history, an AFL game was headed to extra-time.
In the fifth period, the Power were textbook, Sam Gray kicked an easy one, Wines kicked a beauty. Kennedy kicked a filthy grubber to keep the Eagles in it, and at the start of the sixth, he kicked one from right in front.
With 27 seconds left the Eagles were in attack mode, four points down, talons out, screaming in. All their experience, all their poise. The ball went up, it bounced and ended in the hands of Luke Shuey. Then, a high tackle that would dominate the news cycle for the next week. Did he duck into it? It didn’t matter.
The clock kept ticking.
The siren sounded.
Luke Shuey, smirked, looked to the posts and exhaled, then kicked the goal. What a moment.