It has been a big build up in the football media all week to this historic match in China for Premiership points. Early in the week much of the media seemed negative, possibly because of Rodney Eade’s post-match comments last week when asked about the game. As the week has gone on though the sentiment has gradually turned supportive of the match and the acceptance that the potential that China offers should be given a go. Unlike previous matches in Wellington, this overseas match was shown on free to air TV in Australia and late in the week the deal was secured for the match to be shown live in China on various networks (with Mandarin language commentary). The match was also free around the world on the WatchAFL internet service including in the USA and Canada.
The Chinese and Australian national anthems were played prematch and Never Tear Us Apart the Port Adelaide prematch anthem had a run also. The ground condition looked fantastic and had the thumbs up from players and commentators. The air looked clean with no visible signs of serious pollution haze. This may have been assisted by a moderate breeze that was blowing across the ground.
The conditions were described as Gold Coast in March by commentator Leigh Mathews saying it was quite warm but not oppressive. Players did not at any stage seem distressed by the temperature with only a little fatigue that is not unusual late in the game saw some lazy looking kicking. The match was officially a sell-out, nominally that means 10,000 (around 1,500 sold locally). Looking around the ground some terraced areas looked empty but it is hard to know if these are meant to have spectators seated in them or not. There are large areas of marquees outside the ground and some empty areas. The final official attendance was announced as 10,118.
As the game started nothing looked out of place, if anything the historic stadium made for a picturesque background. The ground itself is a little narrower than usual Aussie rules stadiums, most noticeable in the pockets but otherwise plenty of room for a footy match. The Gold Coast Suns in the Chinese national colors of red and gold kicked the first goal through Barlow after a scramble on the goal line and a review of goal umpire Chelsea Roffey's decision. Her call was upheld when the review went back to umpire's call. But it was Port that went on to dominate the quarter with goals to Charlie Dixon, Robbie Gray, Amon and Pollock. The Suns set big Stephen May to run with the dangerous Robbie Gray.
Dixon was starting to look like a favored target up forward. Port dominating contested possession and stoppages. Brad Ebert the best for Port around the ground and Paddy Ryder dominating the ruck. Gold Coast star Gary Ablett had not been able to get the ball in space enough to be damaging. Robbie Gray started the second quarter well roving the pack from throw in, in the forward pocket and snapping a major score. Travis Boak snapped a goal from 35 after contest near the top of the 50 as the Power were more often able to maintain ball possession in transition. Impey kicked his first for the Port as they started to really pull away from the Suns. Westhoff snapped a brilliant goal out of the air on the boundary from a very tight angle and bounced it through for the seventh consecutive goal for Port Adelaide.
Late in the second quarter the Suns cleared quickly from the ball up to a mark by Jarryd Lyons inside 50, he sat his kick into the breeze for the goal. Further goals to Jackson Trengrove and Jarman Impey (kicking his second) however meant that the half time differential was a fair reflection on a half dominated by Port Adelaide. Jesse Joyce improved that to 42 points when he ended the half with a goal to the Suns. Really only Jarryd Harbrow for the Suns could be said to be among the better players on the ground.
The Gold Coast tried to stem the blood loss in third quarter. It was 6 behinds and fifteen minutes before the first goal was scored by Ah Chee for Port Adelaide. Dixon quickly added another soccering out of the air running back into the square just a few meters out from the goal straight in front and then giving off another to Ah Chee who slotted it for Port from the pocket. A 55-point lead to Port Adelaide looked insurmountable at three quarter time.
The final quarter offered little more for the suns. Bad kicking when they did get it forward, let them down. Port Adelaide added further pain with Travis Boak goalling in the first minute and Brendon Ah Chee adding the only other goal for the quarter. A number of misses from Port Adelaide who did look a little tired in the last 10 minutes made the game seem to be just rolling to a stop before Robbie Gray kicked the final goal with 2 minutes left on the clock.
In the end a massive 72 point win to Port Adelaide. Brad Ebert from Port Adelaide won the Best on Ground medal and Port Adelaide took home the cup created for this clash. The number 4 may be considered unlucky in China but Port Adelaide will be happy with their 4 points. From a football point of view a great result for the club that made this game happen. As for the financial, promotional, and developmental benefits to both clubs, the sponsors and the AFL that remains to be seen but a thorough analysis will no doubt be undertaken in the coming days.
In my opinion the game looked good on TV back in Australia and the disaster scenarios being played out in some media in the past weeks failed to materialize. I think this match will be back again next season, most likely with the same two clubs and perhaps with the Gold Coast in their away kit. If extra seating can be added to the stadium another 3-5000 with some temporary extra stands could help the atmosphere and the visual spectacle. Both teams now have next week off. Port Adelaide are now into the top four and the Gold Coast Suns continue to fail to live up to their potential falling to 12th on the ladder.
Gold Coast Suns 1.1 3.5 4.9 4.14 (38) Port Adelaide 4.4 10.5 13.10 16.14 (110) GOALS Gold Coast Suns: Barlow, Lyons, Kolodjashnij, Joyce Port Adelaide: Ah Chee 3, R.Gray 2, Dixon 2, Impey 2, Boak 2, Amon, Polec, Westhoff, Trengove, S.Gray BEST Gold Coast Suns: Hall, Harbrow, Lyons, Saad Port Adelaide: Ebert, Boak, Hombsch, Wingard, Jonas, Impey INJURIES Gold Coast Suns: Rory Thompson (hamstring) replaced in selected side by Keegan Brooksby Port Adelaide: none Reports: Nil Umpires: Brendan Hosking, Matt Nicholls, Sam Hay Official crowd: 10,118 at Jiangwan Stadium
Article last changed on Monday, May 15, 2017 - 1:43 AM EDT