Just days after Stratton, Puopolo and Simpson decided to bow out, so did Port forward Justin Westhoff. He will see out the season. Westhoff, 33 and the father of four, is in second spot for games played with the Power. After Round 18, his game tally is 281. He said of his retirement and career, “I’m not getting any younger ... and it just seems to be the right time ... Having a young family, I don’t want to miss much more of what my kids are doing, so it just felt like the right time.
Port Adelaide kept a firm grip on top spot on the AFL ladder with a rampant 75-point win over crosstown rivals the Adelaide Crows on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval.
With the season’s first batch of fans – 2240 in total – present at the ground, the Power completely outclassed a struggling Crows outfit that lost defender Jake Kelly early to concussion, then Captain Rory Sloane with a thigh injury that kept the Adelaide favorite sidelined for all of the second half.
The winning margin was the highest by Port against their local rivals while also restricting the Crows to their lowest total score in all previous “showdowns”.
Early in the first quarter there was no indication of the drubbing that eventually took place as Adelaide produced eight of the first nine entries inside the 50 meter arc, resulting in goals to Rory Sloane and young forward Darcy Fogarty. That was where the joy ended for the underdog Crows as Port completely dominated proceedings from then on, finishing on the positive side of the ledger for a total of 57 entries inside 50 compared to just 30 for the shell-shocked Crows.
Port was continually first to the contested ball, and it was the young guns that once again shone for the Power just as they had done in 2019. Connor Rozee (17 disposals, 8 clearances, 6 tackles) continues to play at a level that belies his experience, Xavier Duursma (17 disposals, 3 goals) is on fire and Zak Butters (21 disposals, 7 marks and 8 tackles) completed the domination of the second year Power draftees.
After quarter time when Adelaide trailed by just 13 points, it was one-way traffic with the Power brushing aside the Crows with ease. Half time saw Port’s advantage balloon to 32 points as the Crows showed frustration in giving away two late 50 meter penalties that resulted in Port goals.
When the Port Adelaide veterans decided to join the party, there was no stopping the boys wearing the old-school “prison bar” jumpers made famous by the original Port Adelaide that dominated the South Australian Football League back in the day. Justin Westhoff and Charlie Dixon chipped in with three goals each while Steven Motlop added two more plus the mark of the day with a screamer that had the 1,400 odd and spaced out Port supporters in raptures.
With the byes behind us, the first full slate of AFL games in a month gave us an absolutely sensational round of football with upsets, tight finishes and a brand new AFANA Power Poll leader!
Round fifteen highlights included a win for the Tigers over the second placed Swans, upset wins by Saint Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Brisbane and a big win by the Giants over the Hawks that has really opened up the competition for the final eight as we head into the last two months of the minor round.
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.
Bitter rivals Port Adelaide and Adelaide once again packed Adelaide Oval for the much anticipated Round 5 Showdown. Coming off a win against reigning Premiers Hawthorn, the Power had earned favorite status against a Crows outfit which has been playing much better football under the tutelage of new coach Phil Walsh.
On a warm, blustery Adelaide Sunday afternoon, footy fans descended on Adelaide Oval hoping to witness a tantalising contest. The visitors, Richmond, were on a roll, having won nine games in a row to somehow steal a spot in the Final Eight. An incredible number of Richmond fans had made the journey from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and even as far as Europe. There must have been 10,000 rabid Tiger fans in full voice prior to the game. They would be quickly silenced once the game was underway. Port Adelaide, having stumbled somewhat after an incredible start to the season that saw them top of the table, had regained their mojo. More importantly, they had regained their two key back men in Alipate Carlisle and Jackson Trengove.
Just a month ago Port Adelaide was on top of the AFL ladder with dreams of a home Final all but in their keeping. Since then, losses to Sydney, Adelaide and Essendon have seen the Power drop to third on the AFL Ladder and in danger of dropping out of the Top Four. Coming up against Richmond would have seemingly been just what Port needed, with the Tigers - despite coming off a two game winning streak against lowly Brisbane and St Kilda – not yet having beaten a team above them on the Ladder all season. With the game being played at Etihad Stadium with the roof closed, most experts were tipping that Port’s extra leg speed would prove too much for an inconsistent Tiger outfit that had struggled against the quicker teams in 2014. The optimistic Tiger fan might have pointed to Richmond’s strong record against Port in recent times, winning two of their last four games with a draw in between. Nathan Foley started as the substitute in the green vest for Richmond while fellow on-baller Kane Mitchell assumed the same role for Port Adelaide.
Jamie Kloeden and Janet Linn reporting from Australia
It has been a big off-season for both Carlton and Port Adelaide. The Blues lured one of the biggest name free agents on the market in Dale Thomas who made the move from Collingwood while Port brought in Jared Polec from Brisbane. Port Adelaide faces the added pressure of being the big improvers of season 2013 and will now be expected to not only maintain that high level of performance but take it to the next level and be genuine contenders for the Premiership title.
Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia
After a disappointing loss against Hawthorn in the Qualifying Final last week, Geelong coach Chris Scott was not about to take an over-optimistic approach to the Semi Final against Port Adelaide. However during the week he did say that he was confident “our best footy will still be good enough” to progress the Geelong’s Finals’ campaign.
Port Adelaide was coming fresh off one of the upsets of the season, after bundling huge Melbourne club Collingwood out of the Finals series with their “never say die, run all day” brand of football. Given the basket case that was Port Adelaide just over twelve months ago, coach Ken Hinkley and the Port players could have been excused for resting on their laurels and satisfying themselves with their gains so far but that is not the Power way and so a great contest got underway in front of over 52,000 fans on a glorious evening at the MCG.
Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from the MCG, Australia
After a terrific game earlier in the day between Fremantle and Geelong, expectations of such a formidable contest in the nightcap were not quite so high in some quarters. Collingwood went in as strong favorites against the young Ken Hinkley led Port Adelaide outfit. During the week, comments from President Eddie McGuire about where the Magpies would be playing in the Semi Final (inferring they would have no problem overcoming Port in the Elimination Final) did not go unnoticed by the Power players who started the game with intent and certainly looked like they had something to prove.