Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
In 2008 West Coast won just four games to finish second last on the Premiership table, their worst finish under coach John Worsfold. A home crowd of nearly 38,000 people at the oval once known as Fortress Subiaco had high expectations that the Eagles of old would return to play. The previous weekend the Eagles had a cracking start against Brisbane only to be over-run by nine points in the last quarter. Port Adelaide Power travelled west to Subiaco, where they have an outstanding record, with one win under their belt and their eyes on another.
The Eagles made best early use of the ball and Ashley Hanson's goal in the first minutes of the game had the home crowd on their feet in good voice. Adam Selwood followed with a second goal soon after and the Eagles looked up and about, tackling hard and determined to put on a show. Port Adelaide on the other hand looked lethargic and lacked commitment in the contests. They had the appearance of a team that thought it only needed to turn up to the ground to get the win. The Eagles goaled again when Quinten Lynch kicked truly from 65 meters, giving the Eagles three majors with the Power scoreless. After a series of behinds, Westhoff kicked Port's first goal in the final minutes of the first quarter which ended with the Eagles in front by fifteen points.
Salopek kicked the first goal for Port in the second quarter, and the crowd held their collective breath as visions of the previous week loomed. However, Lynch repeated his monster kicking skills from 70 meters out and kept the Eagles' slim lead intact. A mistake from Salopek - kicking backwards and hitting the point post - resulted in Daniel Kerr taking a free kick on a tight angle in the forward pocket. His extraordinary "banana kick" saw the Eagles out to a 33 point lead, their biggest in the game so far. Daniel Motlop woke up towards the end of the quarter and used his exceptional ground skills to kick a goal just before the long break to keep Port in the game.
Motlop had a major impact in the third quarter and kicked another goal after some poor skills by the Eagles caused a turnover in the midfield. Kerr kept the Eagles in the lead when he kicked a long goal after a 50 meter penalty was awarded against Port. The penalty reflected the newly-introduced and somewhat controversial rule that penalises a player who continues with a tackle after the play has passed to prevent their opponent from moving to take part in further play up the ground. Port lifted their tackling and work ethic during the quarter and West Coast players looked nervous as Port became more ferocious at stoppages and close play. After a series of skilful possessions Eagle Matt Priddis won the football at the 50 meter line and scored a steadying goal for the Eagles to give them a 44 point lead at the break.
Port continued to be indecisive with their ball disposal while the Eagles maintained their intensity throughout the final term. Daniel Kerr, competing in a ruck contest against two men literally twice his size, grabbed the ball and kicked a goal in an inspirational and game-sealing moment. The 75 degree heat took its toll on players and the sting went out of the game in the latter parts of the final quarter although Port's best player, Motlop, would not concede and kicked another goal with three minutes left in the game to give his side some consolation in defeat. In the end the Eagles ran out 50 point winners in a game that restored some Eagle pride and belief that this season would be better than the last. Port Adelaide headed home looking forward next week to an easier game against last year's wooden spooners, Melbourne.
Best Eagles: S Hurn, D Glass, D Kerr, A Selwood, D Cox, M Rosa. Port Adelaide: D Motlop, N Krackoeur, B Ebert, S Burgoyne Scoreboard WCE 4.3 10.6 16.8 19.11 (125) Port 1.6 4.9 8.12 10.15 (75)
Article last changed on Monday, April 27, 2009 - 5:15 PM EDT