Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval
Port Adelaide Power traveled west in Round 19 after a crushing win over the Hawks last weekend. With their confidence high, they needed to win this game against the lowly ranked Fremantle Dockers to cement their place in the Final Eight. When the nation's two port side teams meet sparks are expected and a tough encounter is the order of the day.
Surprisingly when the game got underway it was without the niggling and bumping that usually precedes every bounce down. Fremantle showed that they were ready to play hard in front of a loyal home crowd and they hunted the ball in packs in the early stages. Robbie Gray kicked the opening goal for the Power and they looked set to steamroll on and dominate the game. Unfortunately, there it ended. It was as though Port thought that all they had to do was turn up because from that point on the Power was definitely on brownout. The Dockers kicked the next six goals in a row through crisp movement of the ball up the middle of the ground. Port looked scrappy and uncommitted in their approach to the game and nothing was going right for them. Australian football is a running game and Port had brought joggers to this match with players flat-footed and pedestrian. A consolation goal late in the quarter gave the scoreboard some respectability but when Kepler Bradley answered with a goal of his own, the Dockers had a commanding 30 point lead.
Coach Mark Williams gave his team a fierce bollocking at the break in an effort to wake them up. This worked briefly with Danyle Pearce scoring first for the Power within minutes of the bounce. Everyone loves the hometown hero stepping up and shining for the team and Fremantle people are no exception. Chris Mayne scored the next three goals for the Dockers with some magical play that belied his youth and inexperience at AFL level. As a result Fremantle were inspired. They chased, tackled and ran the opposition into the ground, so much so that most of the Power seemed to wish they were somewhere else. With a Finals place to play for it was almost unbelievable to see the lackluster display of skills by a team trying to convince the fans they are a contender. Veteran Des Headland looked ten years younger when he leapt high over his unfortunate Power opponent in the middle of the ground for the mark of the day. Minutes later he kicked a goal which saw the Dockers take a big 45 point lead as the half-time siren sounded. The Dockers' fans rose to their feet and applauded their team off the ground after a first half display of football that hasn't been seen at the club in a decade.
Port were on their game early in the second half with Shawn Burgoyne laying a determined tackle to win a free kick and subsequent goal from ten meters out. They controlled the early part of the quarter and looked to have taken their coach's words to heart. Their good work came to an abrupt end when the Dockers fired up again with the help of Headland. His accurate 40 meter pass to Antoni Grover who goaled, and a major of his own, had the home team lifting to overcome Port's pressure. The Dockers took pride in their tackling and combined with good run off the back line the Power were back on the ropes. Fremantle kept the ball locked in their offensive zone on numerous occasions, chasing from behind and making every ball a contest. With four Docker goals to Port's two in the third quarter the only question was how much they would win by. The Dockers took a game high 60 point lead into the final break.
Matthew Pavlich became the eleventh Docker to kick a goal as the final term started but the Power answered with back to back goals. Mayne kicked his fourth but from there the home team ran out of legs. Port Adelaide kicked the last three goals of the match to make the score line slightly more flattering. Had Port played earlier like they did in the last ten minutes, the game would have been much more exciting for both sets of fans.
It was a nightmare weekend for the tipsters with several major upsets. Port have stayed in the top eight but could have done much more to give credence to their Finals campaign. In contrast the Dockers are finishing the season on a high note and their opponents in the last few games of the season will be looking in the rear-view mirror every time they get the ball.
Scoreboard Fremantle 7.2 11.7 15.11 17.14 (116) Port Adelaide 2.2 4.4 6.5 11.8 (74) Best players Fremantle S Hill, D Headland, P Duffield, G Broughton, C Mayne Port Adelaide A Rodan, C Cornes, D Pearce, D Cassisi
Article last changed on Monday, August 10, 2009 - 10:30 AM EDT