Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from AAMI stadium
The West Coast Eagles, fancied by many pre-season pundits for a Top Four finish, headed to AAMI stadium for their Round Five clash with Port Adelaide in a precarious position. A spate of injuries combined with poor form had the Eagles sitting with a 1-3 win-loss record while Port had surprised most with their stellar form over the first month, cruising to 4-0 and making even the most fervent doubters take notice of a vastly improved Power outfit. A healthy Hamish Hartlett was getting help from young guns Chad Wingard, Ollie Wines and ex-Essendon recruit Angus Monfries as the Power established bragging rights over their nemesis the Adelaide Crows in the power struggle for South Australian supremacy.
While the bookies had West Coast as slight favorites over the hometown heroes, most punters were reaching into the pocket for a twenty cent piece to make the decision on which team to pick in this intriguing contest. West Coast lost the toss and although kicking into a stiff breeze in the first quarter, it was one way traffic into the Eagles' forward line in the early going. Josh Kennedy was completely dominating the Port Adelaide backs as the Eagles busted out to a two goal lead at the 13 minute mark. Things were not going all the Eagles way however as prime mover Matt Priddis was subbed out within the first five minutes after being concussed in a heavy tackle. West Coast didn’t skip a beat however as they ran rings around a listless Port defense to score their third goal through Jamie Cripps. The classy Hartlett got Port on the board at the 25 minute mark but a late reply – once again to that man Josh Kennedy – had the Eagles flying high with his third goal to give the visitors a 22 point lead at the break.
Scott Selwood, Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff were winning a lot of football for the Eagles as they continued to attack early in the second quarter. Angus Monfries kicked a goal for Port against the flow of play, but the Eagles continued to pump the ball inside their 50 meter arc, only to let themselves down in front of goal. Misses to Shuey, Gaff and LeCras kept the scores relatively close until Kennedy threaded through his fourth goal at the 17 minute mark of the quarter. West Coast were starting to look like the dominating team most expected as Dean Cox controlled the ruck and their running players won the contested footy. Josh Hill and Jack Darling goaled for the Eagles as they took a commanding 38 point lead into the main break while a dispirited Port crowd looked on. Despite having the yips in front of goal, the Eagles totally outclassed Port in the first half, with only 250 gamer Kane Cornes getting enough of the ball for Port Adelaide. The 7.13 (55) to 2.5 (17) scoreline was not a pretty one for the home team, and it was hard to see them finding a way back into the game.
Port players were desperate for the first goal of the third term and it came through the brilliant Chad Wingard. At the seven minute mark Paul Stewart goaled again for Port and it looked like the game might be back on. West Coast steadied through an Ashton Hams six-pointer before Chris Masten once again stamped his name on the game with another goal. At the 15 minute mark it appeared as though the Eagles again had control of the game with a solid 41 point lead. From this point on it was Wingard and the wiry Jake Neade who surged forward in a desperate attempt to stage a comeback. Wingard goaled at the 21 minute mark before Neade got his first just a couple of minutes later. The Eagles had no answer to Neade, Hartlett and skipper Travis Boak as the momentum swung heavily in Port’s favor. The home crowd finally had something to shout about as Broadbent goaled close to three quarter time. Although West Coast held sway by, Port was looking dangerous for the first time in the game, taking chances and looking to run West Coast of its feet with Priddis out for the game.
Eagles' coach John Worsfold would have asked his players to lock down the football at all costs and control the tempo of the game, but just one minute into the final quarter it was Hartlett bobbing up his for second goal of the game. The home fans were winding up and Port players were gaining confidence and momentum as the game wore on. When Cornes goaled and Boak goaled twice within the space of 90 seconds, the Eagles seemed powerless to stop the onslaught and incredibly Port Adelaide grabbed the lead for the first time in the game. A couple of missed opportunities by the Power to extend the lead gave the Eagles a sniff. At the 17 minute mark Bradd Dalziell managed the Eagles first goal since the 14 minute mark of the third quarter and they were back in front. Their lead didn’t last long. Port pushed forward to find Monfries who waltzed into goal and regained the lead as the crowd noise reached a crescendo. Seemingly down and out in the third quarter when 41 points down, the Power had staged a miraculous comeback to run the Eagles down. West Coast had one more chance to pinch the win when Mark LeCras marked 45 meters out, directly in front. Unfortunately for Worsfold and the Eagles, LeCras’ kick went left and through for one of the Eagles 19 points for the night. Poor kicking for goal has now haunted the Eagles for two weeks running after an abysmal 7.23 against Carlton in Round Four. The Power controlled the ball for the final minute and a half and ran out improbable winners by just five points, taking them to a 5-0 record for the season.
The Eagles have the chance to get back on track against the hapless Western Bulldogs in Round Six. The all-conquering Power take their unbeaten record on the road to Tasmania to play the unlucky Kangaroos who have been impressive in all their games so far but are nevertheless languishing with a 1-4 record.
Scoreboard Port Adelaide: 1.0 2.5 7.7 12.12 (84) West Coast: 4.4 7.13 9.16 10.19 (79) Best Players Port Adelaide: Hartlett, Boak, Neade, Wingard, Cornes. West Coast: Selwood, Shuey, Brown, Gaff, Kennedy.
Article last changed on Thursday, May 02, 2013 - 7:08 PM EDT