It was an arm wrestle of a game, with Port Adelaide finally slamming the arm of the GWS Giants into the table and claiming the win with an impressive last quarter.
The Giants laid down the challenge in the third quarter and the Power answered in the last, running forward to hit the scoreboard four times in the last quarter.
The Power’s defence managed to keep the dangerous GWS trio of talls under wraps and controlled the game for the most part before their teammates pressed forward and punished the Giants.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
THE BALD BULL
It’s been a bit of a quiet start to the season for Sam Powell-Pepper, but he made some definite noise in this game.
Charging at contest after contest, SPP is a battering ram with damage on his mind. These conditions, and the type of game that was playing out were ideal for him to have an impact, and that’s what he did.
There was a touch of Dustin Martin about him today as he bullied his way through the middle and sent the Power inside 50 on repeated occasions, and when he ventured in there, himself he became a target as well. Isolated against Matt de Boer, Powell-Pepper was string and forced the GWS tagger to attempt to impede him with a handful of jumper.
It was a mistake. SPP went back and slotted the goal to get the Power off and running in the last quarter. And they didn’t stop.
FARRELL ON A WING AND A PRAYER
Now this is how you use Kane Farrell.
He has been out on the wing, learning the position for a couple of weeks now, and Ken Hinkley reaped the rewards of persistence this week as Farrell looked more dangerous than he ever has in his career.
Taking marks, laying tackles and using that loooong boot of his, his run and carry, as well as his ability to find targets hurt the Giants.
I was going to write about this a little further down, but I will do it here. You know how Alastair Clarkson received all this credit for stacking his team with left footers at one stage as it changed the game up? Remember that? Well, at the moment, Ken Hinkley has placed three players behind the footy who are capable of launching the ball over the zone and into space, or if the opportunity presents, at goal.
Trent McKenzie, Hamish Hartlett and Kane Farrell are able to belt the ball 60 metres on the run and in having all three of these guys as part of the defensive wall once the ball goes inside 50, the Power boast the enviable situation of being a threat to snag a goal from 55 or 60 metres out as soon as the turnover is made exiting the opposition’s defence.
We saw it pay dividends with Farrell nailing a beautiful long goal, but McKenzie and Hartlett were also in the vicinity a couple of times, and there are going to be moments in this season when their time comes (again).
This may just be a happy coincidence, like when Joe Ganino “accidentally” meets the girl he’s been stalking at the shops after following her there, but if this is a concerted effort to place these three in positions where they can run forward and have a ping under little pressure, then this is a very, very shrewd move.
Wanna know a secret? I dig Mr Jonas. It’s a good song.
Mr Jonas and me… tell each other fairy tales…
If I am watching the game today and focusing on what Jonas was able to do and what he didn’t do, I might be a little critical. At times he was responsible for Toby Greene, but when Greene decided to go for a hike up the ground, Jonas would remain inside defensive 50. It was obviously pre-ordained but on a couple of occasions someone forgot to pick Greene up as he went on his trip, and that caused a bit of trouble.
However, once the ball drifted inside 50, more often than not it would be Tom Jonas drifting over to take possession and set Port on their way out of trouble.
In a very defensive game, Jonas had one rival in terms of intercept possessions, and was Port’s absolute pillar of strength in the back half. He is the captain for a reason, and whilst he led from defence in this game, it counts as leading from the front.
LYCETT STANDS UP
“Oh, I love Big Mummy…”
“Oh, look at Big Mummy giving people an ear massage…”
Geez the commentators love to get a little carried away with some good, old-fashioned purposeful clumsiness, don’t they?
You know what I didn’t hear from them in this game?
“Another clearance from Scott Lycett.”
“And another clearance from Scott Lycett.”
If they were actually paying attention to what was happening in, you know, the play instead of the peripheral action, they would have noticed that Scott Lycett was well on top of Shane Mumford in their head-to-head battle.
Lycett had eight clearances and 21 hit outs to be the best big man on the park, easily overshadowing Mumford’s five touches and 16 hit outs.
But yeah, you wouldn’t have heard much about it because even though Lycett likes to mix it up with the best of them, he can also win the footy, and that’s what he did here. Eight clearances was a game-high, by the way. It would have been nice if Jason Dunstall had known that.
HAYNES STRENGTHENS AA CLAIMS
This is the only bloke that could challenge Tom Jonas as the best defender on the park.
Nick Haynes continues to go from strength to strength, and with the Power peppering the forward 50 in the last quarter, it was Haynes back there that gave the Giants their only hope. Haynes had 11 intercept disposals amongst his 23 touches and continually gave GWS someone they could rely on to alleviate the pressure.
Right now, he is sitting on the half back flank in my rolling All-Australian team after another stellar effort in the Giants’ back half. If he is not in yours, I have to ask – why?
WHAT’S UP WITH HARRY?
The Port defenders can be a nightmare to deal with and when you have one of Trent McKenzie, Tom Jonas or Tom Clurey to deal with, you know you’re in for a long day at the office.
So, what do you do when you’re confronted with one of these three? Do you sit back and wait to be fed? Do you fly into packs and make sure you make an impact? Or do you do what Harry Himmelberg did this afternoon and do a hell of a lot of nothing?
When you’re playing as the third tall there are points in the game where you need to bob up and make an impact. You’re not going to be targeted by the mids as a first option – that’s Jeremy Cameron. You’re not going to be given the green light to lead up the field and double back – that’s Jeremy Finlayson. What you need to do is make your man accountable and channel Josh Kennedy’s grandfather and “do something” when your time comes.
But Himmelberg’s time didn’t come at all in this game.
He was blanketed by Tom Clurey to the point where I forgot that he was playing. He returned seven touches for the game with just two of them coming inside 50. This allowed Clurey to zone off and make the Port defence stronger as a whole.
Himmelberg needs to impose himself on some contests. It’s fine to be known as this cerebral player who sets up his teammates with goal assists, but there is some hard work that needs to be done as well. He needs to start doing it.
DEFENSIVE FOOTY IS UUUUUUGLY
There’s been a lot of talk about the look of the game in recent weeks. Hell, there’s been a lot of talk about it for years now and as much as the talking heads in the media and panels of experts throw up a bunch of solutions to combat it, until the coaches get on board with a more attacking style, this is what football is at the moment.
And it is not attractive brand, really, is it?
I mean, I am as happy as anyone to have footy back, but when you’re watching what you were hoping was going to be the highlight game of the round and the teams combine for just nine goals to three quarter time, you cannot help but feel disappointed.
Perhaps that was my fault for thinking we would see two of the highest-skilled and successful teams of the season play… you know, a good game of footy. Perhaps my expectations for this game were simply too great?
I’m sure Port fans will not be too disappointed with the outcome – a win over a team the calibre of GWS is nothing to sneeze at, but aside from the hardness at the footy and the man on several occasions, there was very little to be excited about in this game as a neutral supporter.
It was ugly footy.
WHERE IS HARRY PERRYMAN AT HIS BEST?
So, after a few rounds of footy, Harry Perryman sat atop the Coleman Medal race. I didn’t see that coming, and given Perryman was playing on the wing, it was the kind of boost that his team needed when the big boys weren’t performing.
Here we are in Round Six and Perryman has spent the last two weeks plying his trade from half back. What gives? In a game where goals were scarce, a couple of snags from him could have made a significant difference, and whilst he was still very good at half back, he wasn’t dangerous at all.
Watching him this season, he is a player that knows how and when to drift forward. With four goals to their name at three quarter time, GWS could have really used someone other than Toby Greene with a bit of goal sense. Sadly, GWS had no goal sense, and I am starting to question whether they have any sense at all in moving Perryman away from the position where he could have laid claim to being the best-performed player in the league through the first month of footy.
WHAT IS THE CEILING FOR ZAK BUTTERS?
I’m seeing some amazing signs from this bloke at the moment. You know when kids start school early and they’re always struggling to keep up? I was one of those kids – pretty fucking smart, but always the youngest in my year level, every single year as my birthday was on the cut off from that year.
I have no idea when Zak Butters’ birthday is (happy birthday for whenever, Zak) but it looks as though it has taken him 12 months to really find his feet at this level. He now looks comfortable and is starting to show plenty of who he is not just as a player, but as a character as well. I guess it was hard to stand out last season when Connor Rozee had such a blinding start to his career, but Butters is now starting to close the gap, and that can only be tremendous signs for Port.
Hmmmm, well, one of him and Rozee will become Robbie Gray Mk. II. Many thought it was a foregone conclusion that it’d be Rozee.
Now, I’m not so sure. Imagine two Robbie Grays running around? Wow…
THE HOFF ON THE WING, HALF BACK OR HALF FORWARD?
I think the answer is – as long as he is not spoiling his own full forward, any of those spots will do.
Justin Westhoff’s versatility has been a blessing and a curse for him over the years. It has made him the ultimate stop-gap for Ken Hinkley and his predecessors, but it has ultimately limited his impact in one role over his career.
So, right now, where is his best spot?
I like him marking on the lead as the hit up player from 45-65 out from goal so the flank is my choice. Seeing him consistently flying against Charlie Dixon has to be a little disheartening, as it not only drew his opponent to the contest, but actually saw him spoil big Charlie’s marking attempts a couple of times.
In a win it is always good to be able to look at things that need addressing. It beats the shit out of doing it in a loss, right. A small adjustment or two, and we should have a better functioning forward line at Alberton from next week.
WHAT WOULD I CHANGE AT GWS?
Hmmm, Perryman back to the wing is a given. Jeremy Cameron to centre half forward to capitalise on his up and back work. And Stephen Coniglio to start the game in the middle and get a bit of a rev up about setting the example.
Might be time to give Sam Jacobs another run. He would have Stef Martin to deal with next week, and he has been struggling a little as well.
Two exquisite pieces of play from Connor Rozee in this one. One keeping the ball in play to set up the Robbie Gray goal, and the other to centre the ball to Brad Ebert that resulted in Steven Motlop’s easy goal. They’re only little things, but they make a big difference.
Hard not to like Toby Greene’s game again. He just makes things happen. He tried a few things that, had they came off, would have been game changers but with 21 touches from the half forward flank and two direct goal assists, he more than did his share of the heavy lifting.
I cannot remember who it was but an analyst was stating about a month ago that he believed Stephen Coniglio would be rated as the best player in the game after this season. He’s not exactly making that analyst look good at the moment. This season has seen him look out of sorts at times. Do you reckon this is indicative of having too much taken in the midfield and having to rotate too many through? It’s not going to get better – Tim Taranto is due back soon as well.
The Ebert hit on Perryman… hmmm, it was in play and he did tuck up to brace for contact. I reckon he might cop a week for it, but between you and I… I loved that attack. It showed that Port meant business!
Jacob Hopper is a bull. Never gets spoken about but he had 13 contested touches at half time.
I suppose what is impressive is that Port are doing this with Robbie Gray battling a little. Gray has been one of, if not the best players of its AFL life. At some point he is going to have a Robbie Gray kind of game, and when he does, Port will slaughter whoever they’re up against.
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