Port Adelaide Power used speed and wet weather grunt to comprehensively thrash the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium. The Eagles fielded a team unsuited to the conditions. It was cold, wet and windy and a team loaded with three tall forwards and two ruckmen, would always struggle in the slippery conditions. The Power lacked the height of the Eagles but they made up for it with midfield muscle and quick ball movement. When the ball hit the deck it was the Power midfielders of Tom Rockliff, Ollie Wines and Sam Powell-Pepper who pushed aside the lightly framed Eagles midfielders like Luke Shuey, Dom Sheed and Andrew Gaff. The Power wanted the ball more and were prepared to put themselves in harm's way to move it forward at all costs. It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.
Port Adelaide started with fiery intent in first quarter, winning contested possessions and out tackling the home side. Powell-Pepper, Rockliff and Robbie Gray cleared the ball from congestion with regularity. Port ruckmen Paddy Ryder and Scott Lycett dominated the Eagles pair of Nathan Vardy and Tom Hickey, with Port doing most of the attacking in the opening fifteen minutes. Early goals to Powell-Pepper and Xavier Duursma had the Eagles on the back foot. West Coast settled in the second part of the quarter with Shannon Hurn, Brad Sheppard and Lewis Jetta providing resistance to the Port attacks. Thirteen minutes of frantic play had passed before the speedy Jack Petruccelle brought up the Eagles’ first goal. It was from a free kick after he fumbled the ball and was tackled.
The second quarter was a better balanced battle. The Eagles won more contested possessions, but they were unable to escape the ferocious pressure of the Port midfielders. Travis Boak led the way for Port with four first half tackles and Sam Powell-Pepper knocked over anything that wore blue and gold. A heavy shower of rain swept the ground and the Eagles big forwards were left floundering in the wake of the speedy Power defenders Darcy Byrne-Jones and Riley Bonner. Power transitioned the ball from defense so quickly that it bypassed the Eagles' midfielders before they could set their defensive web.
The Eagle defenders Shannon Hurn and Brad Sheppard worked overtime and were well supported by Dom Sheed, as they fought to keep their out-paced team in the game. However, their good work was undone when a brain fade by a frustrated Jack Darling, gifted Paddy Ryder a fifty meter penalty and a goal just before half time. By the main break, the Eagles’ only scorer was youngster Jack Petruccelle who had kicked two goals (worth six points each) and two behinds (minor scores worth a point each).
The third quarter saw Port ramp up the pressure in the fight for the ball. They took control of the game for long periods without scoring. Ollie Wines was in everything for Port and was well supported by Rockliff. Ryan Burton was prominent in moving the ball out of defense. The few attacking moves the home team made were against the run of play but were successful. Darling and Luke Shuey combined to give Josh Kennedy his only mark and goal for the game. The highlight for the quarter was provided by Port’s youngster Connor Rozee, who swooped across half forward to take one bounce and then burn off Liam Duggan, to kick a scintillating goal just before three-quarter time. The inability of the Eagles to gain any ground on Port in the third quarter destroyed all hope of a home-team comeback.
In the final quarter Port played for safety. Instead of attacking through the middle of the ground, they moved the ball sideways and carefully worked themselves into attack. They missed easy shots on goal and seemed content to run the clock down. At the other end of the ground Petruccelle lit his after burners to race away from Darcy Byrne-Jones and boot his third goal. Not to be outdone, Port’s Dan Houston ran down the pacey Liam Ryan, to earn a free kick and kick his only goal. With the pressure off, an unguarded Petruccelle was free to kick his fourth and fifth goals for the Eagles, but by this stage many of the home town supporters had already left the stands. The Eagles had recorded their biggest loss at Optus Stadium and Port Power had exposed the reigning premiers’ Achilles Heel; their lack of pace and lack of midfield bulk.
Next week Port Adelaide take on the inconsistent North Melbourne in Adelaide. The Eagles meet the Geelong Cats in Geelong.
Scores West Coast Eagles 1.1 2.2 5.3 8.5 (47) Port Adelaide Power 3.5 9.9 12.12 13.17(95) Best West Coast Eagles: Petruccelle, Hurn, Sheppard, Jetta, Sheed Port Adelaide Power: Rockliff, Wines, Boak, Powell-Pepper, Burton
Article last changed on Friday, April 19, 2019 - 10:30 PM EDT