Nine unanswered goals in the third quarter gave the Fremantle Dockers the breathing space to overcome a determined Port Adelaide Power in Round 23 at Patersons Stadium. It proved to be the difference in the end but the Power switched on and stormed back with five in a row of their own to give the Dockers a fright. The tendency of the Dockers to take their foot off the gas when they think they have the win was exposed.
It was the battle for fourth position and that all-important double chance in the Finals. Fremantle held it but Port was determined to take it away from them. Port pressed up early and looked crisp and clean with their hitting of targets by either hand or foot. Unfortunately they butchered early kicks on goal that meant the difference in the end had they converted. Matt Taberner continued to show some form with a couple of goals as a result of some quick transition up the ground by the Dockers. At the other end Port had a spread of goal kickers as a result of free kicks and had evened up the score at the end of the quarter.
Chad Wingard from Port made his mark felt in the second quarter – appearing to wake up from his jet lag and kicking some clever goals. Power looked as though they had suddenly sprouted a couple of extra players on the field. They were everywhere and were starting to overpower the Dockers at every contested ball. Fremantle were making mistakes as they tried to get possession, overrunning the ball and finding themselves chasing their opponents. They were looking a bit wobbly under the onslaught, but it was a game of momentum and very much an arm wrestle for most of the first half. By halftime, all Port gained was a difference of a lone point.
After the main break Port came out fast and furious and looked like winners early on. They kicked the first two goals and Fremantle started to show their brittleness as a team that couldn’t handle the pressure of the big games. That was until the small forward brigade of Michael Walters and Hayden Ballantyne stepped up to take their turn in the pressure cooker. Together they added five second half goals and along with Chris Mayne had nine goals straight to tear the heart out of the Power.
Port Power pride themselves as last quarter specialists. They are fit and can run out a game with the best of teams. Despite being let down at half forward earlier, they decided that it was make or break in the final quarter and attacked with a vengeance befitting the fight for a top 4 spot. Jay Schultz kicked six goals, half of them late in the game. His teammate, Robbie Gray was tireless and added two of his own as the game wound down to bring the Power within eight points as the final siren sounded.
Had the game been longer Port might have run over the Dockers. Straighter kicking might have put the game to bed much earlier in the piece. Port finished fifth at the end of the first 22 matches and the Dockers held onto to fourth in the standings. Next week in the first round of the Finals, Port take on a rampaging Richmond in an Elimination Final, but at least they will have the home ground advantage in the “Portress”. Fremantle go to Sydney to face the Swans in a Qualifying Final and get the double chance if they lose.
Scoreboard Fremantle: 3.3 7.5 13.8 16.9 (105) Port: 3.3 7.6 9.10 14.13 (97) Best Players Fremantle: Ballantyne, Neale, Barlow, Pavlich, Sandilands Port: Shultz, Gray, Wingard, Hartlett, Cornes
Article last changed on Monday, September 01, 2014 - 4:49 PM EDT