Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs - The Good, Bad and Ugly

A close to ten goal win by the Power over the Western Bulldogs what was expected from Port Adelaide on their home turf, and that’s how it panned out, with the Power running out winners by 57 points.

Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.

 

THE GOOD

Robbie Gray

At one point, Bruce McAvaney said that Gray may be in contention for All-Australian selection. May be in contention? He’d be as close to a certainty at this point as you’d get.

Tonight only strengthened his claims, as he collected 28 disposals and 3 goals. His hands were so good all night, and he seems to be able to be clean whilst everyone else fumbles and bumbles their way around.

Twice he caught the ball on his hip with one hand as he was running – just pinned it there and took control of it. Do you reckon he did it the second time just to show that the first time wasn’t a fluke? He is as dangerous a small forward as there is in the game, and a pleasure to watch play.

Ollie Wines

Tick tock… another week goes by and still no contract settled for Ollie. His current form would be making some at Port Adelaide a little nervous. They’d be sliding that contract under his door, hiding one in his locker…his shower… teaching his dog to take it to him. They’d do anything right now to get him to sign.

He had a game-high 35 touches and had 13 of those were contested. Add to that 11 score involvements and you have a pretty good night at the office. He might want to clean up a few of those kicks, though – missed the target a bit.

Ed Richards’ second quarter

Great to see a ginger doing so well. I don’t think you can expect too much from Richards just yet – he already has a Rising Star nomination to his name this season and played a ripping second quarter. He faded quickly in the third, but bobbed up again in the last with an electric pick up of a half-volley and delivery to Lipinski for a goal.

Richards’ attack on the ball is excellent. After a couple of fully understandable weeks early where he fumbled a bit, he has found his place in the Bulldogs side, and in the competition as a whole. Tonight he showed that he has a couple more strings to his bow. His three goals in the second quarter opened up a few more options going forward for the Bullies.

Dan Houston

He was an unsung hero, and I’m glad he got to go back and slot a goal from 50 metres out late in the game. He ran forward several times to send the ball inside 50 six times and worked at a very respectable 80% disposal efficiency.

Houston took a bit more of the load with Tom Jonas on the sidelines and delivered for the Power with an impressive outing.

The 13th minute applause

This was a classy gesture by the Port Adelaide fans. Hats off to them, and the club.

Seeing Todd Marshall return from personal tragedy is a great story. It was a shame he couldn’t slot a goal early to cap it off.

What made that thirteenth minute tribute all the better was the gesture from his direct opponent, Hayden Crozier, who put aside rivalry in the midst of the game to give the young forward a bit of a hug as the crowd applauded his return.

Tom Rockliff

He’s rounding into form now, and that spells trouble for upcoming opponents.

We call them as we see them here at The Mongrel, and we have always liked Rockliff when he’s up and about. Earlier this season, he was nowhere near it, and we may have whacked him as a result.

Well, he’s well and truly turned it around, and it is looking as though his tank is slowly getting bigger as well. Tonight he had 25 touches and added three goals to his stat line. It wasn’t quite the vintage 35+ disposal game from Rocky, but it didn’t need to be.

Polec’s twin goals

If you kick a goal like that once, people can call you lucky. If you do it twice… it’s skill.

That’s what Jared Polec produced today from the boundary line, 50 metres out on his powerful left foot. There was a bloke called Jason Akermanis who kicked two famous goals from a forward pocket. Whilst Polec’s goals may not get the same kind of recognition as Aker’s did, they were still classy, and demonstrated the immense skill possessed by Polec.

He bounced back last week after a really ordinary first quarter against the Tigers, and it seems as though he carried it into this week too.

 

THE BAD

The Bont

This may not be overly popular. Yeah, I know he finished with 23 touches and kicked a couple of goals. I get that… the numbers look good and the goals are always nice. But when did they come?

Not when the scores were close, that’s for sure. Bont looked like a man possessed in the second quarter, accumulating ten touches and slotting a goal. It was impressive but the shackles were off at that stage. He looked anything but great in the first, as the Power put the foot on the Dogs’ throat and stepped down. That's when his team needed him.

It actually makes me a little bit sick to hear the commentators applaud how good Bont was after quarter time – the game was basically over by then. Port were up by 34 points, and the Dogs had one behind to their name. Where was 'the next captain' when he could’ve made a difference? He had two disposals in the first quarter – that’s when he needed to step up. Not when the pressure was off.

I’ve seen this a bit from Bont this season. He still gets his numbers and people look at his overall game and say “Oh, he played well.”

Well, Russell Westbrook plays well for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA, and his team goes nowhere. He gets his numbers and his triple doubles, and people fall all over themselves to pat him on the back. But it isn’t helping the team much, and he tends to grab a few stats when the game is done. That’s Bont at the moment. 23 touches and two goals is a good night. On paper, anyway.

Gimme Sam Powell-Pepper or Chad Wingard's game tonight over Bont’s. Sorry Dogs fans - tonight he was more like a "st" than a "star". Half a star.

The Bulldogs exiting defensive 50

Oh guys… I’m not sure you could kick any worse when trying to get out of your defensive area.

Bailey Williams… you had nine turnovers. A couple of them came straight back in and cost your team goals. I counted turnovers from Biggs, Williams, Trengove and Johanissen that led directly to scoring shots in the first quarter. Even when they had a bit of time, they shanked kicks, but when the pressure was on, it was a case of getting the ball out of their area as quickly as possible.

They hacked it, and they paid for it.

 

THE UGLY

The worst free kick of the year

Luckily, it was all uphill from here.

In the first thirty seconds of the game, Toby McLean went for the ball and collided with Robbie Gray. McLean did everything possible not to slide into the contest. He kept his feet and contested the ball. In the collision, he made contact with Gray’s thighs.

The umpire blew the whistle and called for a free kick to Gray for contact below the knees.

It was a disgraceful decision, and the sort of decision that is reactive to contact. Oh no… two people going at the ball – it MUST be a free kick. No guys, it’s not. It is physical contact in a game where bodies will occasionally clash.

Let the boys play!

 

OTHER BITS

For all their early dominance, Port let the Dogs off the hook. Two misses to Marshall and a miss from Dixon on the siren would have allowed Port the sort of margin their domination deserved.

The first game for big Charlie Dixon kicking multiple goals for the season. It’s been a long time coming. He probably should've had five.

I thought Lindsay Thomas contributed well. He may have been missing for periods, but his desperation and ability to make things happen is one of those intangibles that can turn a game.

Port would be ecstatic to see Wingard getting plenty of the ball. Not just getting it, but working hard to get it. At the end of the third quarter, he caught Bont holding the ball. Moments later, he was involved in the forward pocket and was instrumental in getting the ball to Rockliff for a goal. Three direct goal assists tonight for Chad.

Loved Dixon’s pressure on Johanissen as the Norm Smith Medallist ran across half back. He caused the ball to go to Thomas, who missed.

Pretty iffy free to Dixon on the siren. I thought both guys came together and there was contact made… not necessarily a free.

Really great snap by Bont early in the second quarter. Didn’t muck around with it – just got the ball on the boot in as quick a manner as possible. No chance for anyone to smother.

I thought the Dogs may have shown a few signs in the second quarter. Green shoots, I suppose. I liked seeing two players tackling Motlop to ground. Hunting in packs is a the sign of a good team… when they can sustain it.

So, after Ed Richards kicked his second goal, he headed to the bench and wasn’t sighted again for a good ten minutes. He was the dude that looked most threatening, and he sat on the bench way too long. The Dogs weren’t too far away at that point. Motlop kicked the next one to undo the Dogs’ good work.

I feel sad that Justin Westhoff probably won't make the All Australian team this year. Is he spending a fair bit of time on the wing this season? Looks like it. He is all over the place this season. Runs his backside off and makes good footy decisions. Even when some things don't come off, he sees the game playing out a little bit before those around him.

How often does Tom Boyd juggle the marks he clunked in the Grand Final a couple of years back? Swans supporters must watch Bulldogs’ games now and wonder why he showed up on that one day, of all days.

Great defensive pressure by Sam Gray to lay tackles on both Trengove and Roarke Smith to cause the turnover to result in the Motlop goal.

Would love to know the thinking around Mitch Wallis at the moment. Every time I hear his name it’s about where he’ll play next year. He was quiet in the first half but ended up with a couple of goals.

It was interesting to see Port deliberately attack Caleb Daniel in the air. It seemed that whomever was standing opposite him had the ball kicked to him. It did backfire once, when Daniel outmarked Motlop (hang your head in shame!) but it was good coaching to know to exploit him when he was able to be isolated.

I wonder how much the early knock to the head (which cost him a free kick) to Toby McLean affected him? At one point, he received a handball and just completely left it behind. Very unlike him.

Good to see Schache take a one-grab mark in the third quarter. A glimmer of hope there.

Boyd in the ruck – is it working? Ryder had 41 taps tonight. Boyd had 31 but I don’t think he is agile at all. His second efforts are so formulaic. If the ball isn’t in his direct line, he doesn’t get it. Nine touches and one mark… ugh.

Liked Dougal Howard’s defensive efforts. Didn’t like him complaining about decisions that were bloody obvious. When you complain about everything, it damages your credibility, and when you genuinely disagree with something, people won’t take you seriously. Shhhhhhh.

Ebert’s work in traffic to set up a Robbie Gray goal was sublime. He ran through 3-4 defenders, protecting the ball and delivering it to ray perfectly. Also credit to Charlie Dixon making the contest to bring the ball to ground.

A little bit of being too unselfish by the Power in the later stages of the game. Probably cost them a couple of goals, or at least a couple of shots by sharing a little too much. At some stages they gave the extra handball and it actually put their teammate in a worse spot just for the sake of getting them involved.

Nice to see Sam Gray take a big mark. There haven’t been an abundance of them this season.

 

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