Dockers Shutdown Power

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Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth.

In the clash of the two port teams, the Fremantle Dockers showed more desire for the ball than Port Adelaide. Port, a team that has promised their fans so much in recent years, have stumbled when they were within touching distance of the top eight.Port Power players walk off after being defeated by Fremantle in Perth. Photo by David Woodley for AFANA. The Dockers are suddenly among the league's hottest clubs trying to erase memories of the worst season start in club history.

Fremantle attacked the ball from the first bounce and quickly locked play in their forward line. Port Adelaide appeared to be caught by surprise, but defended grimly. Luck was with Freo when a Zac Dawson mis-kick dropped into the arms of Tanner Smith, who took a set shot and kicked the game's first goal at the eight-minute mark. The Power lifted their ratings but found Fremantle equal to the challenge. Then Power seized their chance, when a Steven Hill kicking error was gathered by Brad Ebert in the center. The turnover left the Dockers exposed and quick hands from Matthew Broadbent to a running Karl Amon and a long kick to Chad Wingaard resulted in a mark and goal. Five minutes later, Broadbent was again involved at halfback for the Power. He gathered a loose ball, ran clear of traffic and kicked long to Jarman Impey who snapped while sprinting away from Tommy Sheridan. It appeared that the Power had finally decided that they had more to lose than the Dockers. When big forward Charlie Dixon marked and scored for the Power in time on, it began to look like another tough day at the office for the Dockers. But the Dockers persisted with their pursuit of the ball carrier and began to move out of defense more systematically. With just a couple of minutes to go, Docker ruckman Zac Clarke showed agility and skill at half-forward to get the ball to livewire Lachie Weller, who goaled.

The game continued to be closely fought in the second quarter. Port had a slight advantage in the center clearances, but there were no easy kicks. Travis Boak and Robbie Gray could not break clear from Michael Barlow who was ably assisted by Lachie Neale. With the Power lacking clear drive from the center, the Dockers used their trademark manic pressure to swarm the ball and force turnovers and repeated stoppages. Zac Clarke, playing his best game, matched Port’s Jackson Trengove in the ruck and the young Dockers began to believe an upset was possible. It became an even more hectic game and the Docker pressure was unrelenting. With Barlow blanketing Robbie Gray, and Ollie Wines quiet, Port were unable to get their running game going. The Dockers used their tactics of old to shut the Power down and then eke a goal or two whenever they could. The experienced crew of Pavlich, Mayne, and particularly Barlow, showed their younger teammates how it was done. By half-time, Port had added just one more goal while the Dockers had added three for the quarter.

Port began the third quarter with increased desperation. A classy clearance from the center by Ebert saw Justin Westhoff mark and goal. The Dockers immediately went into shutdown mode and dropped a spare man into defense. The game again became a pressurized and dour struggle. At the eight minute mark Port's Broadbent cleared the ball from a stoppage and Ebert kicked a goal. The Power were back in front. Three minutes later, the ball was in the Docker forward line. Under pressure, Port defender Nathan Krakoeur turned the ball over. Pavlich benefited from the turnover and the Dockers were level again. The fierce pace exhausted players. Halfway through the quarter, several tired and the game opened into a long kicking game where players maintained more of their traditional positioning. The interchange cap on rotations was having an effect. When players are tired class comes out on top top. Pavlich booted a booming 60 meter goal. Port responded through Westoff who snapped brilliantly from the pocket. Port kicks were no longer missing. Port’s Impey and Chad Wingard chimed in for a goal each. Not to be outdone, Barlow who was playing his best game for many years, slipped through two defenders and snapped truly from the pocket. Moments later he broke from the center bounce to receive the ball from Mundy and kicked his fourth. When Matt Taberner goaled, the Dockers had regained the lead.

Pavlich kicked the only goal in the last quarter. Port, unable to cope with the Dockers’ defensive pressure, missed relatively easy chances either side of the last break and could only manage three behinds. The Dockers then finished the match by retaining possession and slowing the tempo of the game. At the fifteen minute mark the Freo chant echoed around the ground and Port realized they had missed their chance to become a top eight side. Port Adelaide's season is not over but, perhaps they have already sealed their fate. They have a two week break to ponder their future. The Dockers, hot with three consecutive wins, will travel to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to test themselves against a well rested Collingwood club.

Scores
Fremantle Dockers:   2.3 5.8 11.9  12.14 (86)
Port Adelaide Power: 3.3 4.6  9.12  9.15 (59)

Best
Fremantle Dockers: Barlow, Neale, Clarke, Pavlich, Crozier
Port Adelaide Power: Wines, Ebert, Wingard, Westhoff, Broadbent


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