The improving Fremantle Dockers held Port Adelaide Power scoreless in the final term and raised questions about Port Adelaide’s ability to make the finals. The inconsistent Power have been on the road collecting frequent flyer points in recent weeks; where they lost to Hawthorn in Launceston, Tasmania and then won against the Saints in Shanghai, China. They came to Perth with confidence, having beaten the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium in Round 5.
A quick start by Port yielded two early goals to Paddy Ryder. A well weighted kick from Steven Motlop set Ryder up for his first goal. Ryder’s second came from a clever one handed mark (catch) against Docker fullback Joel Hamling.
The powerful ruck combination of Scott Lycett and Ryder made things difficult for the Dockers replacement ruckman Sean Darcy, who was playing just the fourth game of an injury interrupted the season. Port were well supported by vice-captain Hamish Hartnett, who played his first game since a knee reconstruction.
Hartnett picked up 12 possessions in the opening quarter to continually inspire Port. The matchup of the day was between the two midfield bulls, Nat Fyfe for the Dockers and Travis Boak for the Power. Honors were even between them early and stayed that way all day, in what was an intriguing struggle between two outstanding midfielders. Robbie Gray worked hard in the middle for Port giving the visitors an early ascendency.
The Dockers rallied and fought back at the eleven-minute mark with a career first goal to new recruit Brett Bewley. Justin Westoff replied immediately with a mark and crafted goal from the boundary. In the slippery conditions, skills were down, but Westhoff’s goal and then a brilliant snap from the boundary by Brandon Matera for the Dockers, were highlights. To hammer home the advantage for Port, a measured kick from Dan Houston allowed Kane Farrell to run and kick his second goal for the quarter. Port had racked up four scores from the Dockers turning over the ball. The Dockers needed to do something different.
Travis Boak got Port rolling again early in the second quarter with a fine 40 meter snap. The difference arrived in the diminutive frame of Michael Walters who sparked the Dockers’ second quarter revival by successfully tackling Hartnett and slotting the resultant free kick.
Walters played in an alternate dimension throughout the quarter. Winning the "unwinnable" ball and showing pure class with his decision making, his disposal raised him above the other mere mortals on the field. He finished with three goals for the quarter and Jesse Hogan benefited with two goals. The Dockers Sean Darcy got on top of Lycett in the ruck and with pressure acts from Hamish Brayshaw, the Dockers dominated clearances in a free-flowing game. The Power had their own magician: Westoff showed sublime skill to center a ball from the boundary for Dougall Howard to mark and goal.
Port regained the lead early in the third quarter with a constructive handball from Boak to Motlop who kicked truly. The Dockers changed their attacking style from one of blazing away with long kicks to the forward line, to lowering their eyes and kicking to targets in short. It worked. The combination of their midfield pressure and tackling, and less-rushed forward entries produced results.
A perfect pass from Steven Hill, playing his first game of the year, saw Brennan Cox mark and score from a tight angle. Port responded with a quick transition from defense that saw Farrell find space and boot his third. Hogan bobbed up for another goal for the Dockers and then Sam Powell-Pepper showed composure for Port in traffic, to slot one from short range. This was followed by Matera snapping another skillful shot from the right forward pocket for the Dockers. A strong mark up forward by Port’s 71st pick in the 2006 draft, Justin Westoff (playing game 260), allowed him to handball to Farrell who booted his fourth and Port finished the quarter one point in front, but with a power of work to do.
The first half of the final stanza was fought desperately as both defenses held firm. The Dockers managed three behinds (worth a point each) to creep in front. At the fifteen minute mark the Hill brothers combined to shoot the ball to Walters who marked and kicked truly. From this point, the Dockers dominated the ground as they shut down any chance of Power responding. Matera marked a centering kick from Fyfe to boot his third goal. Then Walters marked a Matera kick in the right forward pocket and iced the game with his sixth goal. For the third consecutive game, Walters had shut the gate.
Next week, the Dockers return to the MCG to meet the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Power will welcome the return of Ollie Wines, Charlie Dixon, and "ball pig" Tom Rockliff when they return to Adelaide to meet the rampaging Geelong Cats.
Scores Fremantle Dockers 3.2 8.4 12.6 15.10 (100) Port Adelaide Power 5.1 7.5 12.7 12.7 (79) Best Fremantle Dockers: Walters, Fyfe, Ryan, B.Hill, Darcy Port Adelaide Power: Boak, Burton, Houston, Farrell, Hartlett Goals Fremantle Dockers: Walters 6, Hogan 3, Matera 3, Bewley, Langdon, Cox Port Adelaide Power: Farrell 4, Ryder 2, Westhoff, Boak, Howard, Motlop, Powell-Pepper, Butters
Article last changed on Saturday, June 15, 2019 - 12:47 PM EDT