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Polec under pressure

The Fremantle Dockers took advantage of the wet and slippery conditions at Optus Stadium to defeat Port Adelaide Power by nine points. The win meant little but pride for the Dockers, but it cost the Power a potential second spot on the ladder. As a result of the shock loss, the stunned Power have plummeted to fifth place on the ladder.  The game was not pretty and was made difficult by the combination of rain and swirling winds. With their bigger and more mature bodies the visitors won more contested possessions; but the Dockers had raw hunger and pushed more players to the ball. Port could not initiate their running game as their playmakers were cramped and chased by desperate Docker tacklers.

Port scored their first goal ten minutes into the first quarter. They had dominated play but could not break free up forward. It was left to Chad Wingard to snap a clever goal from the left forward pocket, doing honor to a Jared Polec gather and handball from within a pack. Wingard’s curling checkside kick (from the outside of his left boot) was to be one of the few kicking highlights in the game. Port looked in charge of the young Dockers, until at the eighteen minute mark. Then, Ryan Nyhuis intercepted a ball at halfback and hand passed to Bailey Banfield, whose hand pass gave Ethan Hughes enough time to chip a weighted kick to Brennan Cox. Cox took a textbook wet weather mark in front of Dougal Howard to kick the Dockers’ first goal. At the 25-minute mark a scrambled snap by Justin Westhoff, from a pack close to goal, gave the Power some breathing space; but their lead at the end of the first quarter did not reflect how they had dominated the first quarter.

The Dockers dominated the second quarter with twenty attacking entries to just four by Port Adelaide. Port’s ruckman, Paddy Ryder, injured his hip and the Dockers’ Sean Darcy took advantage of Ryder’s absence, to give the Dockers drive from stoppages through Lachie Neale. However, appalling kicking spread like a virulent disease across both teams. Unbelievably, each side missed a series of regulation shots on goal, often from very close range. The Dockers kicked seven unanswered behinds (worth one point each), while the Power’s shots either fell short, or were kicked out of bounds on the full (kick did not touch anything or anyone in-bounds), to leave the visitors scoreless for the quarter.

In the third stanza, the Dockers continued to push players to the contest and deny Port any workable territory around the ball. At the six-minute mark a slinging tackle by Ryan Nyhuis knocked Port’s Robbie Gray unconscious. Sam Powell-Pepper, Ollie Wines and Tom Rockliff lifted their effort to cover for the absence of Gray. However, David Mundy, Neale, and live wire Ed Langdon gave the Dockers spark in the midfield and Luke Ryan played one of his best games across halfback to cut short Port attacks. Jared Polec made good use of the ball for Port, but in the slippery conditions the Dockers had answers for most of Port’s attacks.

Port booted long and high towards Charlie Dixon but the Dockers’ full back, Joel Hamling, had his measure with eight spoils. At the other end, a free kick for interference by Jack Hombsch on Brennan Cox, gave Cox his second goal for the Dockers at the eleven-minute mark. Sam Gray replied for Port three minutes later with a much needed major (goal worth six points).

AFL Fremantle v Port Power, 2018 Optus Stadium.
Jones flys

In response, Cameron Sutcliffe and Ethan Hughes scored two goals in two minutes for the home team, to pose Port some serious questions. Sam Powell-Pepper booted the reply Port needed, but then three minutes before the siren Scott Jones marked and goaled for the Dockers.

An injury to Port defender Riley Bonner just before the break had reduced Port to one fit man on the interchange bench. With the home crowd behind the men in purple, the visitors would need something special to fight back in the last quarter. When David Mundy and Michael Walters goaled for Fremantle with fifteen minutes left, it became mission impossible. Despite this, the Power managed two consecutive goals to Jack Watts and Travis Boak. The Dockers then denied Port space and Port did not have any gas left in the tank to break free.

Next week Port Adelaide meet the Greater Western Sydney Giants, in Adelaide, in a game the awakening Giants must win to stay ahead of Geelong, North Melbourne and Hawthorn. The Dockers head to Etihad Stadium to meet the Essendon Bombers. The Bombers are a game and percentage out of the top eight and a loss would end their hopes for the finals.

Fremantle Dockers:   1.0 1.7 5.10 8.11 (59)
Port Adelaide Power: 2.3 2.3 4.6  7.8  (50)

Fremantle Dockers:   Neale, Mundy, Ryan, Langdon, Hamling
Port Adelaide Power: Wines, Powell-Pepper, Polec, Rockliff, Wingard


Article last changed on Monday, July 16, 2018 - 1:23 PM EDT

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