Sitting 20 points down in the third quarter, you could be forgiven for thinking Port Adelaide would wilt and fall to the impressive Melbourne outfit.
The Power flipped the switch in the last quarter and held the Demons goalless as they reeled them in and went past them to win by 10 points.
Here’s The Mongrel’s good, bad and ugly.
Port fans will tell you that Tom Jonas should be an All-Australian this season. Tonight, on Friday night footy, the rest of the football world sat up and took notice.
Jonas had 20 touches playing deep back, and added 11 marks as well. His ten intercept possessions were pivotal, particularly early as the Demons consistently powered the ball inside 50. Jonas took the responsibility of stopping Jesse Hogan early when he went deep forward, and also found himself covering the lively Jake Melksham.
Overall, a resounding win for Jonas, and should there be any questions as to the validity of his AA credentials, his first quarter, with the Power under siege, is all the proof you need.
What’s that? Need more proof. See that bloke named Tom McDonald? He’s a match winner, and he spent a fair amount of the last quarter on the bench courtesy of a ripping Tom Jonas hip and shoulder. McDonald was the guy who could’ve steadied the Dees - in reality all they needed was one goal to give them breathing room. It’s pretty hard to do it when you’re riding the pine, and that’s where Jonas sent him with a good, old-fashioned bump.
And while I'm on the Jonas train, it was his spoil late in the game on Angus Brayshaw that once again thwarted the Dees. Some might have called it a mark to Brayshaw - I reckon he had to hold it another little bit. You don't get gifts at this level, and if Brayshaw was expecting one, Jonas took it away.
Well, if he hadn’t signed during the week, Port would be thrusting contract after contract in front of his face after this performance. The future captain may have hacked it a bit, but 18 of his 29 touches came in the contested fashion, so they were under pressure.
And there he was at the end, when the Power needed a get-out kick. They went to the boundary and Wines marked strongly against Melbourne captain, Nathan Jones. Moments later, there he was again, marking inside the forward 50 just before the siren. From go to woe, Wines was throwing his big body in, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Hard as a cat’s head, this bloke. A few times he would just grab the ball, shrug his shoulders, power through tackles and throw the ball on his foot to buy Melbourne metres. You could see that he was desperate to influence the contest, and he threw his body in on every occasion.
The Dees played well earlier in the year without Viney in the side, but they are infinitely better with him, irrespective of what the scoreboard reads. 20 contested touches and 14 clearances tell all the story you need to know about Viney’s game.
Seeing him go head to head with Viney at times was like watching two bulls go at it… actually, scrap that – I actually don’t know what it looks like when two bulls go at it. How often does that happen? Maybe it was like a cow and a bull? Or two blind dogs? A rabbit and a hamster? Who knows?
Powell-Pepper had 17 tackles for the game, and at times risked his own well-being just to get a stoppage or prevent a clearance for Melbourne. His head to head match ups against Clayton Oliver were spectacular, and you can see why Port thinks so highly of him.
He was born to play in these physical type of games. He does not shirk an issue, and loved the challenge of running with the opposition's best mids.
It’s an easy thing to do – bagging out Thomas. You hear people smash him for cheap shots and supposed “dog acts”. The most recent incident saw him sit out weeks after collecting Scott Selwood high, but he refuses to change the way he plays, and was very physical tonight.
He may have only kicked one goal tonight – and it was a very important goal, but the physical pressure he applied all game long was exactly what the Power required. I heard that he took Jake Neade’s spot in the side, and he’s going to keep it because he is doing what small forwards aren’t doing – he is attacking the body as well as the ball.
Even better, when it's his turn to go, he doesn't hesitate at all. See below.
Neville Jetta v Robbie Gray
You’d have to award the first round (quarter) to Jetta, as he blanketed Gray up forward. Ken Hinkley was forced to move Robbie into the middle to get him into the game, and as soon as he didn’t have Jetta shadowing him, he started to have an influence.
What we saw tonight was potentially an All Australian forward against an All Australian back man. It’s not often you get a head to head match up like this, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Jetta would’ve wanted to kill Angus Brayshaw for his high hit on Gray in the third quarter; the free kick resulting in Gray’s second goal. That said, he was the one who left Gray to crunch Lindsay Thomas, leading to the ball falling to Gray for his first.
So, how do we rate their contest overall? Gray finished with two goals, which was his job, but was limited to 15 touches – eight under his season average. But Gray does so many subtle things. Little knock ons, handballs over his head to set up a teammate… when Gray does those things, they’re worth more than one stat; they’re creative. Split decision for me, but I do have a penchant for going with the winners, and Gray did have eight touches in the last whilst Jetta stumbled about after a knock to the head.
Now, this will definitely come back to bite me one day – I know it, but as it stands, Petracca is not doing anywhere near enough. He looks every bit the star in the making. He has a big body, great hands and reads the ball well, but where did he go tonight? He started like a rocket and ended up blowing up like the Space Shuttle Challenger (there ya go… I was definitely around in the 80s.)
Let’s have a look at his game. 17 touches, six marks, four tackles and a goal. An OK night from a player who would be content being a bit player in any team. But he had eight of those touches in the first quarter, where he threatened to rip the game apart. To have nine possessions for the remainder of the game is just not good enough.
He was basically unsighted for the first fifteen minutes after half time, and hardly gave a yelp in the last quarter either. In fact, he had one possession in the last quarter. That’s when Melbourne needed their potential superstar to stand up. He was nowhere to be seen.
In the first quarter, he hacked it forward when he had more time, and didn’t make great decisions with the ball. I know I am rambling a bit, but this guy has it all, physically, and skill-wise. Right now, I don’t know whether he has the tank, or the heart to be great.
It's one thing to threaten to do something - anyone can do that. It's another thing to deliver, and it's about time he started.
Speaking of potential stars, Jesse Hogan has fallen off a cliff in the last two games. If you watched the game on Fox Footy, you would’ve seen Dermott Brereton pointing out Hogan not even contesting marks.
He may have a big tank, and he may be able to run all day, but this bloke was a genuine All Australian contender as little as two weeks ago, and has now gone goalless against Collingwood and Port Adelaide in consecutive games. If Melbourne are being accused of being flat track bullies, Jesse Hogan is exhibit 1A.
He finished this game with 12 touches and two marks. The one-two punch with Tom McDonald saw only TMac land a blow. Hogan needs to start playing like the dominant forward he is, and stop waiting for his fellow forward to do all the tough work.
A goalless last quarter
Let the scrutiny begin.
Melbourne lost another big game. Are they flat track bullies? Nah, I don’t think they are… yet. They were competitive tonight, and right in it until only a couple of minutes remained. They had a few completely vanish when the game was there to be won, and it’ll make for a very interesting review when Simon Goodwin sits down and takes some notes.
They did all the hard work tonight, won so many statistical categories, and still blew it. They had 68 inside 50 entries to Port’s 39 and failed to capitalise. Was it the quality of the entries? They seemed fine early on. Was it the quality of the defenders they came up against? That may have something to do with it. Or was it the thoughts creeping into their heads that this was a big game, and everyone was watching? That’s a very real possibility, too.
Melbourne need a big scalp. Honorable losses are for teams who don’t have great aspirations.
Gawn v Ryder was interesting, and I think they may have played to a draw. Gawn had more hit outs, but Ryder nullified him at several points during the game.
Pretty happy to see Todd Marshall drag himself up after being crunched by Oscar McDonald.
The Brad Ebert goal to end the first quarter was humongous. A goalless quarter would have been demoralising, but with one straight kick, Port went into the break with a little momentum.
He was really quiet in the second and third quarters, but in the first, Justin Westhoff was one of the best.
I think Todd Marshall will be a keeper. His hands in the third quarter to pick up the ball and give it in a split second to Boak allowed the Power to contest at the top of the square. Westhoff marked and goaled.
Mitch Hannan had a couple of good moments in the first half, and none were better than his tackle at half forward on Pittard that allowed the Dees to get a repeat inside 50 entry and ended with a goal to McDonald on the run.
Loved Neville Jetta's tackle on Powell-Pepper. He's a hard man to bring down. Tackle... hard man... The Mongrel works blue!
Ever heard the saying ‘It’s always the retaliator that gets caught’? Well, Paddy Ryder got caught for throwing Jordan Lewis to the ground after Lewis cheap-shotted him in the back 50 metres away from the play. It resulted in a free kick from the centre and another shot at goal. I hate seeing that sort of garbage in the game - not the physical stuff. I mean the overreaction and free kicks.
I reckon Simon Goodwin may pull Tom McDonald aside soon and give him the green light to be a little more selfish. He handballed once today as the open goal beckoned, which brought the play undone, and almost did the same in the first quarter before taking the responsibility himself.
Great gang tackle by Wingard and Boak against Viney on the wing in the second quarter. Viney is normally able to shrug one tackle, but two… he’s not superman.
I reckon sometimes, Steven Motlop’s footy brain works faster than he can keep up with. He has the uncanny ability to pull a kick and see someone out of the corner of his eye and send the ball their way. Not a bad talent to have… when it works.
Brad Ebert was robbed in the marking contest with Clayton Oliver. Man in front? Not when the man behind has control of the ball and it’s quite evident.
Speaking of Oliver, it’s no wonder he handballs so often. 60% by foot today.
Great courage by Jordan Lewis to stand under the ball as Charlie Dixon closed in. Impressive that he took the mark. More impressive that he didn’t flinch.
Interesting to watch Ryder getting extra room and out-leaping Gawn in the ruck around the ground.
Amazing strength by Viney to not only stand up in a Charlie Dixon tackle but to take the weight of the big man and fling him to ground whilst retaining possession of the ball.
Tom Jonas’ only mistake for the night was to miskick a ball across ground. It gave Fritsch the chance to tackle Westhoff, win possession and find Mitch Hannan for the goal.
Great physical clash between the two veterans, Thomas and Lewis on the wing. Both guys putting their bodies on the line.
Terribly defence by the Demons as Dixon marked on the line, matched up on Angus Brayshaw all alone. In hindsight, the resultant goal was a pivotal moment. A few questions will be asked of the Demon defenders about that lapse.
Very nasty fall from Christian Salem as he got his legs caught on Lindsay Thomas. Is that a nice way of saying Thomas took his legs? Well, he did, but I don’t think it was intentional.
Early in the last, Jack Viney won a clearance, turned, spun, broke a tackle and, had he possessed a little more ‘oomph’ in his legs, could’ve made a play for goal of the year. As it stands, it was marked five metres out. What could’ve been…
Loved that it was Lindsay Thomas who kicked the first of the last quarter. While all the talk was about Watts, and Motlop and Rockliff… Thomas is slowly making strides with this team.
The free kick against Jake Melksham for sliding into the legs of Jasper Pittard is EXACTLY what the rule was brought in to prevent. Good to see it umpired correctly for a change.
How significant was the 50 metre penalty to Westhoff last in the game against Oscar McDonald. So costly…
The final set of plays by the Power were just that – powerful. Wines marked the kick out and went to Dixon, who marked strongly. He went to Ryder, who took a contested mark and, in turn, he went inside 50 and it finished with whom it started, Wines marking strongly again.
Great win by the Power, establishing themselves as a legitimate top four side, and with games against Carlton, St Kilda and Fremantle in the next three weeks, they could very well be cementing a place in the finals very soon.