Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray sensationally kicked the game winning goal after the final siren to snatch victory from a gallant Carlton in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. With a three-point deficit and time ticking down, Gray marked on a tight angle 40 meters out from goal with the final siren blaring before taking his kick. Having missed a much simpler attempt just minutes before (as did two of his teammates in Charlie Dixon and Kane Farrell), Gray showed no sign of nerves as he split the center with a magnificent drop punt to seal the 64-61 win and strengthen the Power’s grip on top spot of the AFL ladder.
The fact that Carlton led into the final minute of the game seemed most unlikely in the early going as Port notched the first three goals of the game with some early midfield dominance. Carlton hit back through some Eddie Betts magic who helped Michael Gibbons register the Blues first goal. That was followed by another from second year star Sam Walsh, en route to one of his most notable performances for some time. Jacob Weitering was holding down the fort in Carlton’s defense while Port appeared less organized in their usually well-structured back six, allowing the Blues to score through multiple turnovers which led to a one-point Carlton lead at quarter time.
Eddie Betts continued the fun for Carlton in the second quarter as he notched his 300th goal for the Blues, before Port regained the ascendancy with Travis Boak leading the way for the Power midfield. Betts joined elite company in Tony Lockett and Lance Franklin as just the third player to kick 300+ goals for two different clubs. Up forward, Charlie Dixon was giving the Carlton defense all sorts of issues as the big man hauled in plenty of contested marks, giving Port the key focus up forward they needed. Dixon was looking to be the difference in an even contest as the Power took a six point lead into the main break.
Scoring dried up in the third term as both teams became more conservative with their ball movement out of defense. Young forward Harry McKay was looking the most likely to hit the scoreboard for the Blues, however both teams managed just one goal each for the term. Both teams missed chances that could have been the difference in a close game. Sam Walsh stole the show in the third quarter as he took one of the most courageous marks of the year, going back with the flight of the ball with the massive Charlie Dixon bearing down on him. As the three-quarter siren rang out, the Power had maintained their slim six-point margin.
It was Walsh once again providing inspiration for Carlton as he nailed an impressive goal while Will Setterfield continued to prove his worth as a midfielder in combination with the elite Patrick Cripps. When Harry McKay goaled late in the quarter to put the Blues in front, it appeared that an upset victory over the league leaders was on the cards. As if spurred on by the challenge, Port responded. Three missed attempts for the Power to take the lead after multiple forward thrusts looked to be the hard luck story of Port’s afternoon, but enter Robbie Gray who thrust the dagger through Blues fans’ hearts to win the game in a fashion that all aspiring Aussie rules players dream about.
Coaches David Teague and Ken Hinkley will both take plenty out of the contest, with the majority of Carlton’s best players being the young brigade, while Port’s resilience to keep fighting for the win will please a fan base that has seen a team that has promised a lot but failed to deliver in recent years.Port will enjoy heading home to face a struggling Adelaide Crows in “The Showdown” in round nine while Carlton face off against an improved Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
Scoreboard: Carlton: 4.2 5.4 6.6 9.7 (61) Port Adelaide: 4.1 6.4 7.6 9.10 (64) Best Players: Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Cripps, Curnow, McKay Port Adelaide: Dixon, Byrne-Jones, Jonas, Burton, Butters, Marshall
Article last changed on Monday, July 20, 2020 - 11:33 AM EDT