This was a Demons’ showing with all the same tired tropes of 2019. The primary issue – as it always seems to be – was ball use, and in particular the connection between the midfielders and forwards. Melbourne had elected to play the tall trio of Tom McDonald, Luke Jackson and Sam Weideman in the same side for the first time but gave them precious little opportunity to show their wares.
At quarter-time the Dees led the clearances 10-5 and had entered their forward 50 on 14 occasions but had just 0.2 to show for it, trailing by three goals.
Melbourne had been in the game, and remained in striking distance, but ill-discipline started to slip in. Clayton Oliver was reported for striking, and while Port were playing tempo football, Mitch Hannan gave away a soft 50-metre penalty, gifting Sam Mayes a goal.
By the time Christian Petracca finally snapped truly just before half-time, the match was as good as over.
Things had fallen apart, with Melbourne handballing too much and continuing to miss targets by foot. Simon Goodwin headed to the bench, bringing himself closer to ground zero, and yet little improved. Jackson missed a sitter in the third term, with the ball heading straight down the other end and resulting in a Power goal. It was exasperating for the Dees.
Port, to their credit, played well. The Power look incredibly organised without the ball, preying on Melbourne’s proclivity to butcher the ball. They were desperate too, with fringe defender Jarrod Lienert’s desperate third-quarter fist and young forward Mitch Georgiades’ final-quarter mark with the flight of the ball typical of Port’s hunger.
Dropped and then recalled last week, veteran Justin Westhoff returned to something near his best, while fellow old stager Travis Boak overcame a shoulder injury scare to continue his stellar season, ably assisted by Ollie Wines.
Oliver will be looked at for a glancing blow to Port’s Peter Ladhams during the second quarter. The star midfielder jumped to make contact as Ladhams looked to get a kick away, with Oliver’s elbow brushing the Power big man’s head. Ladhams played out the game which could save Oliver from suspension.
TAKE THE GOODWIN WITH THE BAD
Goodwin didn’t miss the AFL’s score review system last week following the Dees’ loss to Brisbane after his side was denied momentum in the dying stages of the game when the umpire chose to review a mark to Jake Lever. Goodwin said of the ARC: “It’s nice and fancy but it’s not doing much.” Late in the second quarter on Thursday night, Port’s Kane Farrell put through what appeared to be a goal, with Demon Steven May claiming to have touched the ball off the boot. The field umpire’s soft signal was a goal, but he asked for a review. The ARC duly spotted May’s finger bending backwards as it made contact with the ball, and a behind was called. Another review in the third quarter also favoured the Dees. Goodwin can’t have it both ways, and AFL officials would have been entitled to look on smugly after the system worked in Melbourne’s favour just days after their coach lambasted it.
PORT ADELAIDE 3.2 6.6 10.9 12.11 (83)
MELBOURNE 0.2 1.3 3.5 4.8 (32)
GOALS – Port Adelaide: Georgiades 3, Rozee 2, Westhoff 2, Mayes, Boak, Dixon, Wines, Farrell. Melbourne: Weideman 2, Melksham, Petracca.
BEST – Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Westhoff, Amon, Mayes, Georgiades, Duursma, Jonas, Rockliff. Melbourne: Lever, Salem, Petracca.
REPORTS – Melbourne: Oliver for striking Ladhams in 2nd quarter.
CROWD: 323 at The Gabba.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter