AAMI Series Port Adelaide v Fremantle Review – Freebie


A powerful Port Adelaide let the rest of the competition know they’ll be top four contenders once again with a professional performance against an undermanned Fremantle side at Alberton Oval on Friday night.

Being pre-season and given the missing high-end talent of their opponents, the Power could have been forgiven for playing down to the level and doing just enough to get the win.

But skipper Connor Rozee and his men had other ideas as they went into high gear to put the Dockers to the sword to give themselves a great tune up ahead of the official campaign.

Port held off an initial strong start from Fremantle to eventually overpower their guests and snag a 13.14 (92) to 8.5 (53) victory.

So what were the big takeaways? What does each fan base have to look forward to after this hit-out? Let’s get stuck in.


Professional Port are ready to roll

Rest assured, Power fans, it looks like Ken Hinkley has his men primed for another big season.

It struck me just how professional Port Adelaide carried themselves in a game where they really didn’t have to go hammer and tong. It was a strong sign of the Power’s determination to get back into finals, and this time actually make some waves.

Their dominance of the disposal tally was perhaps the most telling statistic for this.

Port collected a whopping 92 more disposals than their Freo counterparts, winning the category 397 – 305.

Five players, in Ryan Burton, Ollie Wines, Jason Horne-Francis, Dan Houston and Rozee all collected more than 25 disposals, in an effort that must have thrilled Hinkley given these are the exact players he wants the ball in the hands of.

Sometimes, footy is as simple as having the ball more than your opponent has it, and Port proved the truth of that with overwhelming numbers in this contest.


Stop and smell the Rozees, Port fans

I know it’s no secret, but man, this bloke can play the game.

After losing his running mate Zak Butters to an ankle injury early in the first term, the newly coronated captain made his mark with dash and dare through the middle of the ground.

He propelled plenty of attacking forays and led from the front by causing chaos for the Freo mids. The superstar looks set to follow up his back-to-back All-Australian selections of the past two years with another contending campaign.

Port fans know they’ve got something special on their hands for many years to come with Rozee (not to mention Butters, Horne-Francis etc.), so soak it in, you lucky bastards.


Freo forwards let big opportunity go begging

Down arguably their two most important players in deadly forwards Jye Amiss and Luke Jackson, it was always hard to see Fremantle getting up in this game.

There was, however, an opportunity for the Dockers’ second string forwards to stake their claim and give selectors something to ponder. However, instead of inspiring performances that put pressure on best 22 names, the Freo forwards lumbered their way through a less than modest affair.

Matt Taberner finds himself in a weird place having been overtaken for a spot in Fremantle’s first choice line-up by Josh Treacy, but in all honesty, neither had any impact on Friday night’s contest.

I’m willing to give Treacy a pass given the change in his role from support act to main man, and the change in his surrounding personnel, but it’s a starker picture for Taberner who should have been more motivated to make a good impression on the coaching staff.

The former club-leading forward is on the outer at the moment, and did nothing to press his case, particularly when comparing his efforts to that of what you’d expect from the 20-year-old Amiss.

The difference in Fremantle’s attack when Taberner arrives is vast. They go from a fast-moving front six creating holes for one another to a contested, congested black hole where every entry is a long-bomb to a stationary big man.

In brighter signs, last-minutes signing Pat Voss was impressive in flashes, but Freo will be hanging out to see their key pillars back in the side.


Will Hayden Young be Fremantle’s best midfielder?

This seems like a bit of a flavour-of-the-month call. I mean, Caleb Serong is coming off an All-Australian year, Andrew Brayshaw had one the year before and the other guy has won a couple Brownlow Medals… Still, I think it’s fair to assume Hayden Young will at least be the Dockers’ most damaging midfielder.

A quick look at the stat sheet and the former defender’s five shots on goal (two of which went through the big sticks) is the first indicator of this, but there was more to this performance than those numbers.

Young was the lone Docker to bring elite physicality to this contest. His efforts in the midfield, at one point simply snatching the ball from a Port mid’s hands and powering away from the stoppage, stood out above his peers. He ran the ball through the ground, used his elite kicking to power it forward and was the only person in purple to give a full four quarters.

Personally, I’ve found the Jordan Dawson comparisons a bit much over the pre-season, but boy did Young look at home in that midfield.


Pressure still wins games… who would have thought?

Pre-season or not, football games are won by the side willing to bring the most defensive pressure to the contest, and Port Adelaide were miles ahead of Fremantle in this regard.

Of the top 12 tacklers in the game, eight of them wore Port Adelaide jumpers. That’s absolutely inexcusable for the Dockers given they lost the possession count by close to 100.

But beyond the tackle counts, Hinkley will be rapt with the high-end, disciplined pressure his boys put on from the jump.

Their defensive set-up was high up the ground, causing Freo to turn it over in dangerous spots and allowing the likes of Houston and Burton to go to work on the rebound.

Contrast this to the Dockers, who continuously pull their defence back and invite easy forays into their defensive half by playing five-to-ten metres off their men, and it’s easy to see which team has grasped the modern, more aggressive style of defence and which hasn’t.

This is a worrying sign for a coach with his job on the line in Justin Longmuir. The Dockers need to become more aggressive in how they defend, and cause turnovers further up the ground.



It’s hard to take much away from this game given Fremantle were missing 80 per cent of their forward line and never really looked like challenging, but still, I’d be chuffed if I were a Port supporter.

They played above the level required to win this game, and that in itself shows the intent of a team keen on stepping things up and continuing its ascent.

I’d be rapt with Horne-Francis, I’d be pleased Wines is back in the guts and I’d be absolutely stoked my midfield didn’t miss a beat with arguably its best player in Butters on the sidelines.

For Fremantle, it’s a stranger assignment. The glass half full fans will remind themselves (somewhat fairly, I might add) that Luke Jackson and Jye Amiss make a world of difference, but those with a bit more pessimism would be scowling at a poor defensive performance that, in all honesty, looked like a continuation of last year’s issues.

But hey, it’s the pre-season and literally zero of the 1300-odd words I’ve just written will matter one tiny iota in two weeks’ time. It’s time for the real stuff to begin, and we’ll see exactly how Port and Fremantle fare in a fortnight.