Qualifying Final 1: Port Adelaide vs Geelong

 

Port Adelaide – (Alex Docherty)

 

[3] Ryan Burton – 7

A very strong rebounding game from Burton in this one – 19 of his 21 disposals were kicks and had an overall disposal efficiency of over 71 percent. Was the equal-second highest Port player on the ground for intercept possessions as well, registering eight of them for the match. He’s made a good little role across the defensive half this year. Also recorded 632 metres gained – which is the most of any Port Adelaide player on the ground.

 

[12] Trent McKenzie – 9

Was trusted in getting the job on Tom Hawkins tonight and despite getting outbodied early in the opening quarter, did an outstanding job on the All-Australian forward. Hawkins kicked 2.1 – one of those coming in the latter stages of the game when it was well and truly done and dusted and a classic joe-the-goose goal of all things, but McKenzie worked very well to keep it away from his mitts and made sure that Hawkins had no second chances when he fluffed a few marks inside 50. Didn’t get his hands on the ball all too much, but thought his movement was more precision than anything else – very impressive performance.

 

[21] Aliir Aliir – 10

After being named All-Australian on Thursday night, Aliir was by a country mile the best player on the ground at quarter time, taking a number of intercept marks – I thought I counted four of them by the first break alone. The Cats worked hard after quarter time to really put some body onto him, but more often than not, he was still able to affect a number of contests in the air and outbodied most of his counterparts to take the intercept marks. Led all Port players for intercept possessions with 11 for the game and took six intercept marks – anyone still complaining about him being in the team over Jacob Weitering just has to look at this game.

 

[14] Miles Bergman – 5

I thought he was solid, without being too spectacular. Struggled to introduce himself to the footy in the early goings of this contest, but as the Power got a run on in this game, so too did Bergman and his ability to help link up the play: Had 18 disposals and seven marks in what is the first final in his career, but also went at a very shaky 44 percent disposal efficiency, but we can put that down to first-finals jitters, right?

 

[1] Tom Jonas – 8

The Mongrel’s resident South Australian bloke, Matt Oman was onto it in our chat with about eight minutes to go into the match that Jonas deserved a solid eight. It was a true captain’s game from him in this one, in the second half especially, where he was able to position himself a kick behind the play and take a few intercept marks – took nine marks in total – the most of any Port player on the ground, along with eight intercept possessions, which made him equal-second highest Port player in that statistic.

 

[33] Darcy Byrne-Jones – 7

Upon first glance, it didn’t feel that Byrne-Jones was ultimately damaging or impacting the contest, but looking back and reading the stats, both tell something completely different. Byrne-Jones’ kicking has been criticised heavily in recent times, but 14 of his 17 kicks hit the target but the most impressive thing about his game was his defensive pressure: he had 21 pressure acts – the second-highest of any Port player on the ground. A very underrated effort.

 

[7] Xavier Duursma – 6

Tough to assess his game Duursma, He got his hands on the footy a few times in this one, but I’m not exactly sure what he’s done with it: 11 of his 24 disposals were kicks and he kicked them at a very thorough 91 percent efficiency. He took seven marks, and also had four score involvements, five intercepts and four inside 50s as well. He wasn’t bad, but I didn’t think he was anything special either.

 

[16] Ollie Wines – 8

He’s one of the red-hot favourites for the Brownlow Medal and featured in his first All-Australian team on Thursday night, but this was nothing out of the ordinary for Ollie Wines in this one as he continued along his remarkable form this season. Whilst the clearances numbers weren’t great – he averages just under six per game, he only had three in this one – he was still working very hard in around the contest and was more about opening up the play through his handballing: 23 of his 33 touches were handballs, but also recorded eight score involvements and the five inside 50s.

 

[5] Dan Houston – 6

Another hard game to assess – Houston certainly had a lot of good moments in this one – positioned himself well to be on the end of a couple of intercept marks and certainly looked to keep Port’s ball movement flowing at every opportunity: Had the 20 disposals, the nine kicks at 89 percent efficiency, as well as the eight marks and the six intercepts playing that sort of half-back/midfield hybrid player. Only the two tackles and the one clearance, maybe it asks too much, but i’d like to see him up these numbers in the Preliminary Final.

 

[15] Karl Amon – 7

A very strange game to assess in this one, he gave away six free kicks in the first half alone, some were warranted, others were just bordering on ridiculous second-guessing from the umpires (Bet you can’t tell which one I’m talking about. Looked quite erratic in application early, but after half time, I thought he was well and truly back into the groove that should’ve landed him a spot on the All-Australian wing: 25 disposals, six inside 50s, six score involvements, five marks and had 15 kicks at just over 73 percent.

 

[4] Todd Marshall – 7

I’ve always been a fan of Todd Marshall, but I can safely acknowledge some of his football this year has been utter tripe. But I’m rapt that old Kenneth has put a lot of faith in him, because when he can fire, he can be such a handy piece to this side – and with Georgiades out this week, he needed to add something, because big Mitch’s form suggests that he’ll come right back in – possibly at Marshall’s expense. He kicked 1.2 – bit disappointing to miss the sitter in the third term, but I thought his overall effort,intent and smarts were more on display in this one than any game of his I’ve watched this season.

 

[18] Zak Butters – 6

Matt Oman’s lovechild, I better be careful with how I word this one… Actually, I don’t care, he can’t get into Victoria, so do your worst, Mr Oman! To be honest, he was good in patches, and I do have him on record saying that he should be a six at best. He kicked a goal, set up another one, pressured really well – laying six tackles and 17 pressure acts all up. Considering he’s missed a lot of football this year, Butters’ efforts in this one I think were very solid, and I think that’s something that’ll please the Port faithful as they march into the last four.

 

[9] Robbie Gray – 8

To make no buts about it, I just love Robbie Gray. Yes, I do think he will be fighting Travis Boak as the best Port Adelaide player – certainly in this era, but even possibly all time and that’s a hill worth dying on. What he’s still managing to do this late in his career is quite extraordinary as a forward. He was at the fall of most contests, either mopping up the crumbs or opportunistically swooping on a Geelong error – both forced and unforced. Kicking 1.2 isn’t just reward for his efforts, he also had two direct goal assists and eight score involvements in a terrific effort to get his team mates involved.

 

[22] Charlie Dixon – 7

How high do you reckon I can push a key forward that failed to kick a goal? In truth, I think a lot of Charlie Dixon’s aerial work in this one was great – much better than last week, when he was stuffed in Alex Keath’s back pocket. Out of his five marks, three of them were contested – only Aliir had more with the four – but overall his presence in the air and at ground level was enough to make Geelong defenders quite uncharacteristically jittery with the ball. The eight score involvements was also telling in the sense that he was busy enough down there. I was left quite happy with his efforts this week.

 

[20] Connor Rozee – 5

I didn’t think it was his best game tonight – inconsistent is probably the word I’d use to describe his performance in this one. He gave away a few clumsy head-high free kicks early on in the game but as the game progressed, he was able to provide a nice link-up option and was a bit stiff to not get on the end of a free kick or two himself: 17 disposals and seven marks for his trouble, but also laid the four tackles in what was an adequate defensive effort.

 

[29] Scott Lycett – 3

I was left feeling a bit disappointed with Lycett in the ruck against Rhys Stanley, who is a player who you wouldn’t exactly hold in a similar regard to some of the league’s better rucks in the competition and for the record, I hold Lycett to a higher regard than Stanley. Both Lycett and Stanley engaged in the same number of ruck contests, Stanley had the better of him 20-16 with both of them putting in five hitouts to advantage each. Only the eight disposals and two tackles as well – all around, not a good night for the big man.

 

[10] Travis Boak – 9

It was very hard to not give him a 10 in this one – if he’d have converted one or two of those opportunities, it would’ve been a much easier decision. Port were absolutely destroyed in the centre clearance count 15-3 and Boak had two of those. Overall, his work around the stoppages and his clean, crisp hands in general play were absolutely outstanding from start to end. The 32 disposals, eight clearances, seven inside 50s and 10 score involvements were all team-highs, but also recorded seven tackles in a terrific defensive effort, the three behinds the only downside.

 

[28] Willem Drew – 9

I watched Willem Drew against my Bulldogs last Friday night and thought his effort on Tom Liberatore was commendable – this week he got tasked with running with Joel Selwood for large parts of this game and kept him to just 17 disposals for the match. Drew’s defensive efforts in this one got a lot of applause because the Cats’ game plan was dismantled on the back of strong defensive pressure. He led all Port players for tackles and pressure acts with 11 and 26 respectively – I think he’s going to be a very important figure for the Power in a couple of weeks time.

 

[13] Orazio Fantasia – 9

Back into the team this week and filled the goal-scorers tally up consistently with four majors – one in each quarter, made even more impressive when he only managed just the nine disposals. Was subbed off for an apparent knee injury early in the last quarter – how severe is it? Well he reckoned the week off will do him a world of good, and for Port fans, I hope so – he’s missed so much footy this year with recurring injury issues, yet in the games he has featured this season, he has looked so lethal and deadly, especially when you don’t pay him enough respect.

 

[38] Peter Ladhams – 7

There’s a bit to like about Peter Ladhams – his moustache being one of them, his tattoos? Ehhh not for me, but I’m sure they appeal to others. However, one thing that I was left genuinely impressed by the big man from Modbury was his workrate. Being the pinch-hitting ruck option requires a good tank and the knack to fill a hole around the ground and Ladhams, working up forward in tandem with both Dixon and Marshall, was very solid: 11 hitouts, five to advantage from 24 contests, but also 14 disposals, four marks, eight score involvements and a goal from a second ruck is a good return.

 

[26] Riley Bonner – 6

I thought it was a fair running-style game from Riley Bonner – he gets a bit maligned from time to time, but I think he’s finding himself some rhythm and continuity in his game now playing a little more as a player that you get it to and you know he’ll attempt to break the lines or slice through the defence via foot. 17 kicks and 509 metres gained, going at just under 65 percent says that his kicking could still be refined. His vision to locate Orazio Fantasia in the second quarter was a highlight, however, the kick was sloppy, just fortunate the Cats were just as bad and Orazio capitalised.

 

[6] Steven Motlop – 7

Started the match hot and on fire with two goals up to half time, and much like the goals drying up for the Power, so did his input on the contest, but I think looking back on it, I was quite pleased with his performance when you consider that he does have this innate habit of completely wetting the bed in games where you need him to perform. I’ve also questioned his work rate and pressure abilities in the past, but his 18 pressure acts in this one spoke plenty about how much he wants a spot in this team.

 

Medi-Sub [2] Sam Powell-Pepper – 6

This is a very tough one to judge considering that he came on for the final 20 minutes of the match as the medi-sub. But it’s so hard to deny what impact he had in this short time on the ground: 2.1 in the last quarter, when Port could only muster four goals in the second half alone is a pretty good effort in itself. He kicked the pair from just six disposals and two marks, also had just the four pressure acts in this time span as well, so I’m inclined to rate his game favourably.

 

 

Geelong – (Tim Hunt)

 

[38] Jack Henry – 6

It’s hard to give a defender a passing mark in a game where they were so thoroughly out-classed, but I thought of all the Cats defenders, Henry was the only one deserving. He was often left to be the last man in defence, and performed the task reasonably well, combining his four contested marks with ten one-percenters and going at 80% with his disposal.

 

[25] Lachie Henderson – 6

A difficult game tonight for Henderson, but I thought he performed ok in spite of everything going on around him. He held his direct opponent, Charlie Dixon, to just one behind for the night, went at 100% with his disposal and for a lock-down tall defender, I reckon that’s all you can really ask for.

 

[24] Jed Bews – 4

A tough night for Bews, matched up at times with Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Robbie Gray. He has provided the Cats with important run from defence throughout season 2021 but looked well off the pace tonight, going under half his season average for disposals as well as being consistently outclassed inside Port’s attacking 50.

 

[42] Mark O’Connor – 3

An early casualty for the night, sustaining a hamstring injury early in the second quarter, O’Connor’s presence as a defensive-minded midfielder was sorely missed as the game went longer and Port’s ascendancy grew. Being reasonably familiar with hamstring injuries, I would suggest that O’Connor would be a near certainty to miss next week.

 

[46] Mark Blicavs – 4

As much as I like Mark Blicavs, I find it really hard to give him a passing grade tonight. He was well down on his season averages for disposals and marks, and while he surpassed his average for hit-outs, I reckon this was more due to him spending extra time in the ruck than any dominance he may have exerted.

 

[30] Tom Atkins – 3

A dirty night for the Cats small defender. Like most of his defender teammates, he was well down on his season averages, and struggled to impact the game offensively. There’s never any doubting the effort of a guy like Atkins, but sometimes the execution can leave a little to be desired. That he only had two intercept possessions, despite averaging nearly five for the season, and contributed only 57m gained suggests that his mind was solely on defending.

 

[27] Sam Menegola – 5

A man we all expect to get better as the game goes on did exactly that – it’s just that the game was essentially over by half time. Menegola (or is it Menengola, BT?) had 14 of his 22 touches after the long break, but went at an uncharacteristically low 54% efficiency and contributed five turnovers (admittedly four were in the last quarter when the Cats were trying anything to get the ball forward). One suspects that if the Cats are to go deep into September, they will need Menegola exerting an influence over games before the half-time siren.

 

[22] Mitch Duncan – 7

I must admit, I had my doubts about the Cats bringing Duncan back into a qualifying final after such a long lay-off. This generally doesn’t go well and leads to a player, at best having no impact, and at worst re-injuring themselves and sitting out the remainder of the post-season. Neither of these happened with Duncan. In fact, for much of the first half he was the best player on the ground, with his incisive passing by foot providing the basis for most of the Cats forays forward. Unfortunately, in an inverse to Menegola, as the match went on, Duncan seemed to run out of puff, struggling to impact much of the game in the third and fourth quarters. He will be better for the run, however, and the Cats should look forward to seeing him glide through the middle of the ground.

 

[7] Isaac Smith – 6

When the Cats acquisition of Isaac Smith was announced in last year’s trade period, I reckon everyone in football knew this was for one reason and one reason only – experience in September. Though their fans may be a little disappointed in his game tonight (he butchered the ball a bit), there was a bit to like about Smith’s efforts. His ability to run up-and-down the wings all game long is virtually unrivalled and despite his impact being down, he still managed to gather 23 disposals and have a shot on goal. If he has three more games like that this September, I bet Cats fans will be singing his praises.

 

[37] Sam Simpson – 4

I remember watching the Cats v Saints game a few weeks ago and remarking that I thought Simpson played a really neat game and looked a good prospect across half-forward. Tonight’s effort doesn’t necessarily sway me from that opinion, but it also doesn’t fill me with confidence. He kicked a good goal in the second quarter (the Cats only one for the second term), and provided a decent amount of pressure around the ball, but September is about more than ‘good goals’ and ‘decent pressure’.

 

[5] Jeremy Cameron – 1

I know, a ‘1’ is a tough score to give (just wait til you see what the next guy got). But the truth is I expect a lot from Cameron, as I assume most Cats supporters do (he did cost them three first-round picks, after all). And really, I’m not marking him down for what he did do, but rather what he didn’t do. At crucial times in the second and fourth quarters, Cameron had very gettable shots at goal, but missed both. One bad finals game is forgivable – everyone fails once. But if one bad game becomes two, expect the heat to come.

 

[23] Gary Rohan – 0

I could be mean and say, really, what do we expect from Rohan once the calendar flips to September. The truth of it is, across eleven completed seasons, eight of which have seen him play finals, he is anywhere from 10-30% worse in finals than in home-and-away games. Tonight, Chris Scott I thought pulled a really smart move, giving Rohan the job of nullifying the impact of Aliir Aliir. Unfortunately, Rohan did such a bad job that this only lasted a half and he was sent into defence for the second half. His game didn’t get any better there either, but then again, who thought it would.

 

[45] Brad Close – 5

I like Brad Close as a footballer. Is it because he looks like a cartoon detective and I love true crime? Maybe, but then again I contain multitudes. Anyway, I thought he was one of the better Cats players tonight, particularly one of their better forwards, having 17 disposals and six score involvements. Like most good small forwards (and most good detectives, now that I think of it), he never seems too far from the action, always ready to pounce on any mistake and ramp up the pressure to the point that it can become overwhelming.

 

[26] Tom Hawkins – 4

A disappointing outcome for the big fella in his 300th. He started well taking a nice strong, once-on-one mark opposed to Trent McKenzie, but his resulting set shot from 40m out straight in front drifted wide. From then on, it looked like the Power defenders figured, ‘hey, maybe let’s not leave one of the best full-forwards of the last twenty years one-on-one against an under-sized defender’, and tried to double-team him any chance they got. Hawkins still managed two goals for the night, but was well down on impact and influence.

 

[32] Gryan Miers – 1

I struggled with what I should give Miers as rating. I don’t mind him as a player, but like a lot of small forwards, I do find him frustrating. The way that he kicks the ball only adds to my frustration, and led to my rating of ‘1’ tonight. On several occasions, he had teammates open ahead of him, but instead of simply kicking the ball 20-30m to this open teammate, he instead throws his leg out almost perpendicular to his stationary leg, and then tries to swing it back through, cutting the ball like an off-spinner. If it comes off, it looks great, but if it doesn’t (like it didn’t tonight), it looks lazy

 

[1] Rhys Stanley – 5

It can be a tough job being the ruckman for the Cats. It’s clearly a position they are not willing to spend top dollar on (if it was, I’m sure they could have lured Todd Goldstein away from North a while ago), and really for what they need in a ruck, Stanley serves the purpose. Their midfield bats deep enough that they don’t need their ruck to dominate, they really just need him to show up. The fact that the Cats won the centre clearances 15-3 and the clearances 36-30 indicates that Stanley did his job tonight.

 

[14] Joel Selwood – 3

This was a rare poor finals outing from Selwood. He was shadowed for most of the night by Port’s tackling machine, Willem Drew, and struggled to exert much influence over any portion of the match. Though he would have five clearances for the game, none of them could be considered decisive and his 17 disposals from tonights game is his lowest in a final since he gathered 15 touches when the Cats beat the Pies in the Preliminary final of 2007 – in just his 20th career match (not counting last year with it’s reduced minutes).

 

[35] Patrick Dangerfield – 3

There was a bit of running commentary on Danger’s game in our Mongrel chat tonight, with us all debating whether his performances in finals matched up to his profile as a player. He was presented with a very good opportunity to cast any of these aspersions aside tonight, as he matched up with reigning Mongrel of the Year winner Ollie Wines. In my opinion, Wines took Danger behind the woodshed tonight, obliterating him in just about every facet of the game. I say ‘just about every facet’, because there was one that Danger was very good at – dropping simple marks. By my count, he dropped three easy grabs tonight – one of which led to a Port score. Being a champion, he will want to make up for this poor performance next week.

 

[8] Jake Kolodjashnij – 4

I’ve always liked Kolodjashnij as a player – maybe just because he has a fantastic name. No, there’s more to it than that. He’s a great size, rarely causes a fuss, and seems exactly what you want in a third/fourth defender – someone who is almost invisible. His impact is never going to be measured in disposals, but rather by the way the opposition’s forward line operates. Unfortunately for Kolodjashnij (I really do love spelling that name), Port’s forward line operated like a hinge that has just had WD-40 applied to it – extremely well and with minimal effort.

 

[3] Brandan Parfitt – 5

The Cats rely on Parfitt to offer a little bit of x-factor to their midfield, and while there were a few occasions tonight when he threatened to take the game on, for the most part Parfitt was below his best. His customary tackling pressure was ok – he had eight tackles for the night – but he was outdone by Port’s tackling beast – Willem Drew – who had 11 tackles. Aside from that, his two behinds and seven turnovers pointed to a night that just didn’t go right.

 

[29] Cam Guthrie – 3

At times tonight, I found myself seeing the number 29 running around and thinking ‘oh yeah, that’s right, Cam Guthrie is playing’. Four or five years ago, that may have been an acceptable thing to think about his game, but now he is an experienced midfielder, he was an All-Australian last year, and he should be exerting more influence over a game than he did tonight. He was about 30% down on his season average, and like Cameron, while he can be forgiven for one bad game, he won’t want to make it a pattern.

 

[40] Luke Dahlhaus – 0

Dahlhaus played tonight. That’s about the nicest thing I think you could say about his effort in this game. He finished with six touches (four turn-overs) from more than 80 minutes of game time. With the likes of Higgins as the medi-sub, and Clarke, Narkle et. al. as emergencies, I doubt if we’ll be seeing him again this September.

 

Medi-Sub [4] Shaun Higgins – 3

I find it really hard to rate the influence of a medi-sub. For the team, the best case scenario is that they’re not used and the 22 who started the game, finish the game. For the guy who is the sub, the best result (though a little perverse) is that they are out there as early as can be, so that they can get into the swing of the game quickly and have some impact. In the end, Higgins was out there reasonably early – by midway through the second quarter at least – and quickly had an impact, winning a centre clearance. From there it seemed he struggled to completely work his way into the game as he finished with ten disposals and one score involvement. It remains to be seen if this is enough to win him a spot for next week.

 

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