Port Adelaide spent the off-season bolstering their ranks in order to challenge in 2018. In Round Two, they travelled to Sydney and let the AFL know they mean business, dropping the Swans at the SCG by 23 points.
Here’s the Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Buddy v Doogie
Dougal Howard was playing just his twelfth game, and he got the assignment of stand next to Buddy. He broke the record for spoils in a game in Round One, but getting the number one forward in the game opposite you could mean you’re in for a long night.
Howard was admirable all night. His closing speed meant he could upset the Coleman medallist at the last second, but once the ball hit the ground, Franklin used his strength to take control.
Buddy ended with 4.2 and provided a strong marking target for his mids.
Key moment in their duel came as the ball floated over the back. Howard and Buddy were left one-out. Body to body, Howard was no match for the older, stronger Franklin, who dispatched him with a hip and shoulder, and soccered a goal.
Here’s to many more Buddy v Doogie match ups.
Luke Parker v Sam Powell-Pepper
There was quite a bit of back and forth between these two, and I loved it. SPP is a hard nut, and Parker never takes a backward step. They butted heads at stoppages all over the ground, and threw their bodies in recklessly.
Parker may have collected 27 touches to SPP’s nine, but the Power’s win is what mattered in the end.
Looking at him, I couldn’t help but wonder what this guy was doing out there. Seriously, he looked like a he had a cheap spring roll for a body, with four chopsticks sticking out of it as limbs. There was nothing of him – what was he doing out there in one of the most physical games of the season?
Kicking goals, that’s what.
His two goals late in the third quarter really helped swing the momentum to the Power. There are players who look unlikely – Justin Westhoff, particularly as a youngster, comes to mind, and Marshall struck me as one of those kind of players, but any questions I has of him were quickly answered - he definitely belongs.
Quadzilla worked his backside off after quarter time to finish with a game-high 35 disposals. Amongst those disposals were 19 of the contested variety, his big body helping him earn the ball at the coal face.
He also stuck six tackles as he matched it with Sydney’s big midfielders.
Franklin’s last quarter goal
The Swans needed something special, and Buddy provided it. With a stoppage 40 metres out from the Swans’ goal, the ball was hacked back towards the 50m line. Franklin wheeled onto his left and snapped a skying bomb.
It sailed through – not sure anyone else in the comp could do that. Spectacular.
In his first game of AFL football, Rockliff gathered five disposals. It remains the lowest total of his professional career. The next lowest total is nine disposals.
That’s the amount he compiled against Sydney.
I have no doubt Rockliff will more than justify his recruitment to Port, but nine touches doesn’t do that.
To be fair, he has totalled nine touches a couple more times along the journey but I'm sure he's be disappointed with his output.
I really felt for Steven Motlop today – he was the victim of the only dangerous tackle call of the day.
So, having been pinged for it already, the next time, he decided to keep his feet and hold Dane Rampe whilst screaming at the umpire to pay holding the ball. The umpire didn’t pay it, the ball spilled out and the Swans cleared the ball.
This is why players tackle their opponents to the ground. Holding them upright allows them to dispose of it, and poor bloody Motlop got burned on both occasions. It's a stupid rule.
Downfield free kick.
There was a free kick paid right before the three quarter time siren, and it was paid downfield.
As Dan Houston went to throw the ball onto his boot, Will Hayward lunged to impact the kick. He did, and Houston crashed into a stationary Swan. The umpire determined it was late and handed Robbie Gray a goal.
Now, I don’t think it would’ve impacted the end-result, but this is more about the way the game was being played, and small push between players and as a ball is kicked, and a subsequent collision of minimal impact are not worth a free goal, which is what it was. On replay, it’s actually difficult to determine what the downfield free kick is for.
Houston does not get knocked down, and the contact looks innocuous. It gave Port a little buffer heading into the last quarter, and really, they were playing well enough that they didn’t need a moment like this to mar it.
Appealing to the umpires for nothing
I really hate this, and Dan Hannebery is as hard as they come, but in this case he didn’t look great. He puffed his chest out and had a crack at Robbie Gray as the ball went out of bounds.
As you’d expect, Gray had a crack back, and pushed Hanners in the upper chest. What did the Swan do? Did he stand his ground and go back at Gray? Nope. No he did not.
Threw his arms out and appealed to the umpire for... something. Seriously, it’s soft, and Hannebery is better than that. It’s a terrible look, and it is a weak act.
Jarrad McVeigh’s multiple efforts in the first quarter were great. He matched it with Charlie Dixon in the air and as the ball hit the turf, he kept his feet and laid a perfect tackle on Jared Polec.
The Swans look like they’ve got another gem in Oliver Florent. 11 games into his career and he knows how to have an impact.
If I heard Dwayne Russell talk once more about these two undefeated teams, or how it was a top of the table clash, I may have leapt at the TV and tried to kill him. Of course they’re undefeated. They both won… in ROUND ONE!!!
Look-away handballs only look good when they hit a target. Missing while you’re not looking hurts because you’re not looking AND you don’t even know you missed. Do you, Justin Westhoff?
Both teams were very well drilled. Would only go through the centre of the ground if absolutely sure they had someone open in the second and third quarters. Of course, as the game opened up late, they tried it more often.
Despite the heat being on in the forward pocket, Jack Watts managed to find enough time to change directions three times, feign a couple of handballs and then get the ball to Travis Boak for a goal. Classy.
Huge error from Rampe, obviously concerned about giving away a free kick for a deliberate behind. Forgot to take the ball with him and gifted Chad Wingard a goal.