In a game that further pushed the Victorian agenda, this salivating game was left in the graveyard shift of Sunday twilight. Nevertheless this ninth vs fourth match-up was always destined to deliver a serious shake-up to the look of the ladder.
How this shakeup happened was something that this writer did not see coming at all.
Brisbane stormed out of the gate. The Lions kicked the opening SEVEN goals and the ball was living in their half of the ground. It seemed the Power were playing old school footy. They were far too focused on making life tough for the Lions’ better players like Lachie Neale that they forgot that the aim of the match is to actually go for the ball. However, the way the young Lions responded and refused to let their star midfielder be isolated was very encouraging.
The image of Mitch Robinson beckoning Cam Sutcliffe to try and square-up with him, as he hassled Neale all the way to the bench, will be replayed at nauseum, but it shows how much Robinson has developed at the Lions. He’s gone from a lamented player to a true cult figure that has the respect of most supporters in the competition for the role he plays at the Lions.
The Power saved some face as time went on, but the Lions won the game in the first 25 minutes and never looked back. Port fans will be feeling the same way as Geelong fans after the 1989 Grand Final (If only we had played the ball in the first quarter!).
Five Power players had 29 or more disposals to the Lions one. Yet Brisbane won the clearances. It seemed the Power mids enjoyed sharing the footy but were unable to get meaningful returns from their efforts. Kudos must be given to the Lions midfield players and coach who seem to be punching well above their anticipated weight class from the beginning of the season.
The Best Stuff
The former Power skipper was one of the few genuine winners in the game. He can hold his head up high as he continues his fantastic renaissance of form in the 2019 season. Another week, another 30+ disposal game for Boak. A game high 18 contested possessions and seven clearances, shows just how much Boak fought the fight alongside his fellow Power on-ballers in what must’ve seemed like a web of Brisbane midfielders around them. Alas, there is no rest for the wicked, as he must continue to deliver in spades for the Power if they are to stand a chance in their next three games. He’ll need help, but I doubt Port’s ability to perform on a consistent basis without him.
Mitch Robinson is the player you always want on your team. He has always been tough - relentless at the footy and ruthless toward his opponents. Always the first in to back up his mates on the field, he makes others walk taller but doesn’t seem to feel the need to prove himself as the best player on the field. Robinson has had his faults in the past, but his transformation at Brisbane into a genuinely exceptional AFL player has been remarkable.
To appreciate Robinson, you only have to see the passage of play from the first quarter where he started a Brisbane chain deep in the backline, only to be on the receiving end of it in the opposite goal square. The play wasn’t a slow stop-start chain either - it flowed quickly. That’s the sort of running you see from the elite midfielders. Now I’m not putting Robinson up with the likes of Dangerfield, Fyfe, Sloane or Cripps, but he is definitely in the rung below.
His final stats read 21 disposals, five inside 50’s, seven tackles, five one percenters, one goal and 585 metres gained.
Speaking of midfielders on the rung below, how underrated is Jarryd Lyons? Currently at his third club and you have to wonder what the hell the Gold Coast were thinking when they let him go last year. Lyon was the top disposal winner on the ground AND the leading tackler, which would’ve been a whole lot more impressive if Josh Dunkley didn’t have the monster game he did, not 90 minutes earlier. Nevertheless 36 disposals, nine clearances and nine tackles highlight just how hard Lyons was in this game. With Neale slightly down and Zorko playing a more outside role, Lyons stepped up early and put his stamp on this contest.
I still can’t believe the Gold Coast didn’t want this guy… THE GOLD COAST!?! How’s that working out for them?
Another great game by Zorko. This guy would be compared to the likes of Treloar and Martin if he played in Victoria. In my opinion he is the most underrated player in the competition. Three goals, 24 disposals, 549 metres gained and five tackles. A complete performance on the outside while the likes of Neale, Lyons and Berry got it done in tight.
Cameron was probably the highlight of the match. Could’ve easily finished with six or seven goals. Looked dynamic and continually threatened. Duly finished with his bag of four goals (on track for 40+ for the season) and furthered his claim for the All-Australian forward pocket.
The Good Stuff
Cam Sutcliffe Vs Lachie Neale
A solid match-up. Sutcliffe probably took the early points but there was no denying the will of Lachie Neale, as he forced his way into the match. Neale did receive good support with Lions players continually blocking for him at stoppages. Neale’s numbers were down in some areas but he still delivered 17 contested possessions, 10 clearances (five centre clearances) and six tackles. Sutcliffe stuck to his task but couldn’t hurt Neale enough going the other way. Neale finishes with the points and the win.
To paraphrase Kurt Russell as Jack Burton in one of my all-time favourite films, Harris Andrews is a “10-foot road block”. Only nine disposals and two marks for Andrews in what seems a quiet outing where he did what had to be done. Seven intercept possessions and 14 one percenters, which are mostly his commanding spoils highlight just how hard he was to pass for the Power’s forwards. Charlie Dixon’s lack of impact highlights the effectiveness he Andrews and Darcy Gardiner continue to have. Throw in the newly introduced Marcus Adams and Brisbane’s big defenders look rock solid.
Really delivering on the talent he promised at the Cats - McCarthy is such a good mark for player of his size. His game is exactly what you would want from a small forward each week. Two goals, 20 disposals, six score involvements, 25 pressure acts and eight tackles. It was the game of a crafty player who works hard defensively to protect his teammates down the field. A very busy player who was biding his time in the rehab room and now looks like he is really enjoying his footy.
The Not So Good Stuff
Steven Motlop was the ‘almost’ player at Geelong for years. At Port he is nowhere near that. 13 disposals, one contested possession, no scores. It was an unproductive day for Motlop, who only had to look down the other end of the field for how a small forward should be approaching a wet-weather day. He had two options. Attacking flare like Charlie Cameron, or pressure like Lincoln McCarthy. He chose neither, as they were both too hard and involved getting hit occasionally.
How can someone run so far and so hard for so little. 15 km’s for 18 disposals… and if you really watched his game a lot of his disposals were at stoppages and in-close which means he did a hell of a lot of unrewarded running. Only two clearances, two tackles and seven contested possessions shows he just wasn’t putting himself in the right spots.
Butchered the footy a lot. Just another game where Rayner shows he has x-factor, but not consistency. Still a young player though, so all is forgiven as his team is consistent enough without him. Chris Fagan will absolutely keep him in the team on the potential of what he could do in a final if it clicks for him. Just not his day today.
Westhoff just failed to impact this game. For such a senior player, Ken Hinkley will need him to stand up and deliver consistently if Port are going to seriously challenge for finals spot. His game was best summed up by a passage early in the last quarter. Worked hard up to the wing, received a less than perfect kick. Lunged for the mark and juggled it over the boundary.
The Other Stuff
The Return of the Drop Kick
Stefan Martin’s very loose handling of the ball midway through the second quarter was well recognised by Anthony Hudson. Martin fumbled the ball to the ground and threw the boot at it. Reminiscent of a bygone era it laced out Cam Rayner but was deemed not long enough to constitute a mark (Bit stiff ump. Where’s your sense of occasion?).
Oscar’s plucking Seagulls
Oscar McInerny is just making his way as an AFL ruckman and his tandem with Stefan Martin is paying dividends for the Lions. A big body, but still not quite fully developed, McInerny had some quite funny situations where he just took some ridiculous marks. Whether by luck or skill, they are good signs for Lions fans expecting some big things from the developing semi-giraffe.
Points for Effort
Far from a day-out for Josh Walker, from the Lions. Brisbane’s number one target inside 50 for the day and not one mark. Back in for the injured Eric Hipwood, Walker showed a distinct lack of touch that wasn’t helped by the weather conditions. Luckily, he saw the funny side when he marked the ball midway through the last quarter… while on the bench. Walker still served a key purpose for the Lions in bringing the ball to ground for them all day and not letting the Power defenders hold sway. We’ve all been there Josh. It’s the little victories, mate.
Positives first. The Lions are in a rich vein of form. They have arguably just completed the hardest two weeks of their season with back-to-back interstate trips against fellow prospective finalists, and comprehensively beaten both. They have won four straight since that uncharacteristic loss to Carlton (who have also carried that form so maybe it’s not so bad).
The Lions should win the next four games. Hosting North and the Dogs at the Gabba, which both should be good matches but at home, the Lions should prevail. Playing their new bunnies, the Hawks, in Tassie. They also play the hapless Gold Coast which should hopefully provide some percentage. Their big test comes in the final two weeks of the Home and Away season. Hosting the Cats and then playing the Tigers at the MCG.
Those two matches could be the difference between the Lions potentially finishing second or sixth. Either way, they are a long way above where most pundits predicted at the beginning of the year.
Where to now for the Power? Now a full game out of the top eight. It seems every time they have a great win and start to build some real momentum, they throw it away the next week.
They can only hope that their inconsistent form continues and they pull out a blinder next week against the in-form Tigers. With their two following games against the Giants and Bombers, the Power need to find a way to win consecutive matches quickly, or they will find themselves behind the pack and playing teams with nothing to lose (and nothing to gain for themselves) in the final weeks of the Home and Away season.
A poor run over the next three weeks and subsequent potential finish in the bottom six could spell the end of Ken Hinkley at Alberton.
A fantastic run over the next three weeks and some consistent performance leading to a finals appearance and possible home final, could see the man hailed a hero. Port’s destiny is in their hands. They just have to decide how much they want it and how much they are willing to hurt for it.
Well that’s a wrap. The Lions gave the Power a lesson in playing energetic footy on a wet Sunday afternoon.
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