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Mongrel Wrap - THE SHOWDOWN

Port Adelaide’s inconsistent 2019 reared its sometimes ugly and sometimes very attractive head once more, as a completely dominant second half turned Showdown 47 on its head. Here is the Mongrel’s Good, and Not So Good, from the Power’s 57-point destruction of a disappointing Adelaide.

 

THE GOOD

Port Adelaide’s second half

Leading by three points in a gripping Showdown, the Crows came out in the second half breathing fire, creating two scoring opportunities in the first minute. From then on, it was all Port Adelaide, piling on nine goals and nine behinds to a meagre two points in a complete wipe out that few saw coming. Recording 111 more disposals, the Power were a pressuring beast, embarrassing Adelaide with six more tackles despite having so much more of the ball.

 

Reilly O’Brien

The main reason O’Brien is listed here and not with his fellow best players is the sheer level of improvement shown in season 2019. Keeping Sam Jacobs in the SANFL, O’Brien’s last four weeks have been especially dominant, averaging 18.5 disposals, 37 hit outs, and six score involvements, leading many to now believe that Adelaide’s recruitment of Brodie Grundy may not be necessary. Grundy, Max Gawn and Rowan Marshall are the top 3 ruckmen in the competition, but O’Brien is not far behind them and if he is not the AFL’s most improved player, he is certainly in the conversation.

 

Mark Ricciuto’s comments

During the final quarter, Adelaide board member Ricciuto spoke candidly, calling his team’s performance a total embarrassment. The reason I have put this in the Good section is the honesty from a Board Member fed up with the effort he was watching. Always known to speak his mind, Ricciuto’s comments should be a wake-up call for a team that has far too much talent to just be clinging to eighth position on the ladder. Beaten Grand Finalists in 2017, the Crows have gone nowhere since then, and both players and coaches should be in the firing line, regardless of their standing in the team or coaches box.

 

Port’s willingness to go up the guts

If you get a chance to have a look at the game again, take a look at the difference in styles of play. Port was determined to take the game on, looking for options in the corridor whilst the Crows played safe, as though they were playing not to lose.

It’s very different to playing to win.

It came undone a few times early in the piece, but the Power persisted and when they got loose, the Crows had no answer.

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THE NOT SO GOOD

 

Adelaide’s Inaccuracy

While Port Adelaide were clearly the better side in the second half, reality also says that had Adelaide been more accurate in front of goal, the Power would not have been as close as they were at half time thus setting themselves for a comeback. Wayne Milera was the main culprit with 1.3 for the evening, but there were far too many occasions where the Crows either took the wrong option with lead up kicks, or were simply not good enough when kicking for goals. Inaccuracy has cost the Crows at least twice this season, and with a percentage just over 100%, Adelaide will need to arrest this trend quickly if they want earn a double chance, which they have more than enough talent to do.

 

Port Adelaide’s Inconsistency

It was an excellent performance from Ken Hinkley’s men, but it does raise the question as to where this effort was against the Western Bulldogs in driving rain last week. Port Adelaide’s last eight weeks have produced LWLWLWLW in a terribly inconsistent display. Power fans must question how they can trust their team any time they take to a football field, given they have had amazing victories over West Coast, Geelong and now the Crows, but can dish up such tripe as their efforts against the Bulldogs, Fremantle and Hawthorn. Port face a tough run to the finals, each week facing a team either in the eight or scrambling to make the eight, and if the Power want to see September action, they will need to string victories together quickly.

 

The Time Slot

How many more Showdowns are we going to get before the chiefs in AFL House bite the bullet and give South Australia’s biggest game its rightful home on a Friday night? While the end result was incredibly one sided, the spectacle of a Showdown deserves to be shown on the glittering stage of Friday night, and it seems to this reporter at least, that the competition won’t be truly balanced until Showdowns, Western Derbies, Battles of the Bridge and Q-Clashes get the same consideration for the marquee time slot as the big Melbourne clubs.

Saturday twilights are for games that kind of have to happen but are not marquee matches. This is anything but. This is one of the showcases of the AFL season and it is about time it starts being treated as such.

 

The Disappearing Supporters

This may be a personal pet peeve, but as a supporter of a Victorian club living in Adelaide, it really bugs me when I see supporters walking out on their team before the final siren. To anyone that reads this paragraph and thinks they may be who I am referring to, let me just say this to you. You have no idea how lucky you are. I have seen my team live just once in two years. Whether your team is winning by 10 goals and you want to beat the traffic, or they are getting slaughtered and you can’t stand the pain of a loss, you should still suck it up and support your players until the very end.

 

Don Pyke’s selection next week

Adelaide players, this will not be a fun week for you. Don Pyke needs to make a stand against such woeful mediocrity, and there will be many senior players sweating bullets until Thursday evening. The truth is I could list over half of the Crows’ Showdown 22 that could be up for omission for the Gold Coast Suns clash, but instead I will look to their SANFL side.

Is it time to give Darcy Fogarty another run? How about handing a debut to Pat Wilson or Shane McAdam? Is it worthwhile leaving Elliott Himmelberg in the forward line for the rest of the season and let him develop? Are Riley Knight and Myles Poholke worth persisting with? Does Andy Otten deserve a final string of games before he potentially hangs up his boots? What about Gibbs and Jacobs, has their time now gone?

It seems that a few Adelaide players are perhaps resting on their laurels, expecting to always be picked, but on this performance, Pyke needs to show all of his charges that there needs to be ramifications for such disgraceful efforts shown on Saturday.

 

Who were the players of the match?

 

Robbie Gray

The now five-time Showdown Medallist was simply brilliant once again, showcasing his trademark ability to find the football and burst clear of packs to drive Port Adelaide forward. Some may argue that Gray’s disposal efficiency of just 60% is not good enough for an elite talent, but Gray’s efficiency was below 50% in the first half before he corrected his output in a barnstorming third term.

Gray’s 2019 has been by far his most inconsistent, owing to injuries and Port’s heavier reliance on his services with Chad Wingard no longer around, but once Gray returns to his absolute best, as he did in the Showdown, the Power will once again boast one of the most dynamic midfield cores in the competition.

 

Justin Westhoff

Port Adelaide’s most experienced player proved to the Power’s selectors that he is far more important to their fortunes than they realise. After 37 disposals and 3 goals with Port Magpies in the SANFL, Westhoff was again superb in a Showdown, and surely came close to grabbing another Showdown Medal. With Scott Lycett playing injured, Westhoff was asked to ruck for vital minutes, and didn’t disappoint whilst on the ball, recording 23 disposals and 16 marks in a display that reminded the AFL world that there is still a lot of life left in Westhoff’s old legs.

 

Scott Lycett

When Scott Lycett went down with a knee injury in the first quarter, Port fans would’ve been excused for thinking doom and gloom, given there was no obvious in-game replacement and Reilly O’Brien was starting to dominate. Showing enormous courage to return to the field, Lycett quickly became one of the Power’s most influential players as Port made their charge, giving his midfielders outstanding service in an enthralling battle with Reilly O’Brien, and his goal in the third stanza swung momentum the Power’s way. 19 disposals and 32 hit-outs for a man in career best form, Lycett is one of Port Adelaide’s most important players in their quest for finals.

 

Tom Clurey

Often undersized, Clurey was a defensive monster in a duel with Crows skipper Taylor Walker, keeping the star forward to just nine disposals, three marks and two goals. In an encouraging sign, Clurey also played an excellent rebounding game, with 18 disposals (including 16 kicks) at 88%. Quiet and unassuming, Clurey is the mainstay of the Port Adelaide’s unheralded defence, and has gone about his business with a minimum of fuss, taking may impressive scalps along the way, including his bunny Taylor Walker twice.

 

Matt Crouch

Clearly the best member of a team full of disappointments, the younger Crouch was at his best once again, gathering 29 disposals at 86% efficiency. Making good use of Lycett and O’Brien’ ruck battle, Crouch was instrumental in a tight first half, and perhaps if his forward half teammates had been more accurate, Crouch’s performance would’ve been looked at more favourably. At 24 and with 100 games under his belt, Crouch, along with brother Brad, are the future of this Crows team and will lead it wonderfully once Walker and Sloane’s careers reach their conclusion.

 

Who needs to improve?

 

Taylor Walker

Another disappointing performance from perhaps the AFL’s most frustrating player, Walker’s two goals glossed over a frankly terrible showing. Being taken to the cleaners by vastly underrated Tom Clurey, Walker was again a non-factor in a Crows loss, recording just nine touches and three marks. Big Tex has shown he has the talent to tear a match apart, but his 2019 has been disappointing to say the least, and if Ollie Wines can spend weeks in the SANFL, so too can co-skipper Walker, who may need a confidence boost for the last few weeks of the season.

 

Charlie Dixon

Is it harsh to throw Charlie Dixon under the bus when his team won by 10 goals? Perhaps, but Dixon’s Showdown performance was poor. Still finding his feet from a long injury layoff, Dixon’s four touches at a paltry 50% efficiency were simply not good enough for a man of his presence. Getting a goal from a free kick that he nearly had reversed due to an overflow of aggression, Dixon will likely escape any ramification due to Port Adelaide’s terrific victory, but for the Power to play any part in September, Dixon will need to take the next seven weeks by storm. Daniel talia was his master in this one.

 

Paul Seedsman

Looking back at Paul Seedsman’s roller coaster 2019, the mere fact that the Seed is back on the park after a horror looking injury is positive enough. However, Seedsman’s Showdown showing mirrored his team, having no influence on the match at all, gathering just seven disposals at 57%. A man with a lethal leg, Seedsman failed to put the ball to his boot in the entire first half, and Adelaide’s forwards suffered as a result. If Don Pyke swings the axe for the Suns clash, Seedsman has placed himself firmly in the firing line.

We’re a hard working bunch at The Mongrel, and HB Meyers has another 2K words on this massive clash as part of the Mongrel Patron site, including discussion around Ebert’s complete football package, the guts of Scott Lycett, plaudits for Daniel Talia, questions around Hugh Greenwood’ role and that of Wayne Milera and whether the 2018 Draft will be remembered the same way at Port as the 2004 draft is remembered at Hawthorn. Have a read if you can’t get enough of the Power’s domination of the Crows. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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