The Port Adelaide Power kept a top two finish in their sights as they overcame a determined Fremantle Dockers, to score a confidence boosting win on the road. It was the first time the Power had won at Optus Stadium and they will look to maintain their momentum by entering the finals with three consecutive wins. The Dockers tried hard but were let down at times with sloppy errors in the midfield and forward line, as they trial a group of young players before their disappointing season finishes.
The Dockers started strongly by making fifteen forward entries to seven in the first quarter which was based on them winning more clearances and contested possessions than Port Adelaide. Early rewards came when Michael Frederick and Luke Jackson had scored a goal each for Fremantle by the nine minute mark. The Dockers applied elite pressure on the Power in attack and in the midfield, inhibiting Port's opportunities to move the ball. However, a perfect centering kick from Todd Marshall to Sam Powell-Pepper who marked (caught the ball) and kicked accurately from a set shot, opened Port's account at the nineteen-minute mark. Port then lifted their intensity. After a boundary throw-in in attack, Zac Butters snapped a clever goal over his shoulder to bring the scores level.
Port Adelaide increased their work rate in the second quarter. Their attack on the ball was fiery and their attack on the Docker players was even hotter. Port gave away more free kicks but the physical assault on the inexperienced Dockers began to pay dividends. Ollie Lord and Jeremy Finlayson had two goals more goals on the board after nine minutes of play. The Dockers continued to push into attack but wasted opportunities with poor kicking. At the eighteen minute mark Dockers' small forward, Sam Switkowski, showed his team mates how to kick a good running goal. Port immediately responded by winning the restart clearance via Sam Hayes. Jason Horne-Francis showed silky skills to gather and boot a quick reply. Some more fumbles in defense by Karl Worner and Corey Wagner led to a turnover against the Dockers and Finlayson kicked to Powell-Pepper who marked and goaled to extend Port's lead. The Dockers persisted, despite losing center clearances, they tackled well and won contested possessions to create pressure on the Power. Fremantle first gamer Tom Emmett won a free kick to kick his first league goal just before half time.
Horne-Francis lifted Port Adelaide in the third quarter with his clearance work, ball handling and explosive pace. Port used a quick transition to see Willie Rioli use pace to mark and goal after receiving a perfect centering kick from Marshall. Another goal was added by Jed McEntee where Docker defenders were caught out of position.
After the restart, Lachie Shultz tackled Dylan Williams to win a free kick, which found Michael Frederick, who converted to keep the Dockers in touch. However, Port was now winning more clearances and contested possessions. Zac Butters and Ollie Wines were driving forces in the midfield for Port. Dashing work by Horne-Francis resulted in a snapped goal by Jeremy Finlayson in time-on. Port had a useful lead by the end of the third stanza.
A goal to Darcy Byrne-Jones at the four-minute mark into the final quarter sealed the game for Port Adelaide. The Dockers persisted with strong work in the midfield by Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw. Goals to Switkowski and Emmett had the home crowd cheering before Byrne-Jones slammed the gate shut with a goal for Port, just before time-on. Port went into defense mode to frustrate the Dockers. A rare move from defense to attack saw Brennan Cox mark and kick the final goal of the game for the Dockers, but the visitors had prevailed.
Next week the Dockers travel to the MCG to meet Hawthorn where the season will end for both teams. Port Adelaide Power will return to Adelaide Oval to meet the Richmond Tigers. Port needs to beat the Tigers and then St Kilda need to create an upset by beating Brisbane at the Gabba, for Port to move into second place. The more likely scenario is that both Port and the Lions will win next week, giving Port the unenviable task of meeting the Lions at the Gabba in the first week of the finals.
Scores Fremantle Dockers: 2.4 4.7 5.8 8.10 (58) Port Adelaide Power: 2.3 6.4 9.6 11.8 (74) Best Fremantle Dockers: Serong, Brayshaw, Schultz, Ryan, Henry Port Adelaide Power: Butters, Wines, Horne-Francis, Rozee, Williams
Article last changed on Friday, August 25, 2023 - 10:14 AM EDT