Port Adelaide has flexed its muscles to comfortably defeat Adelaide by 37 points in the clubs’ AAMI Community Series clash, winning 17.9 (111) to 11.8 (74).
Port Adelaide got big performances from Mitch Georgiades (four goals) and recruit Jeremy Finlayson (three goals) to help power the club to victory.
But it came at a cost for both clubs, with Robbie Gray (hamstring) and Rory Laird (wrist) both getting struck down with injury.
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The Crows were coming off a blowout 89-point loss to the Brisbane Lions in last week’s practice match despite a promising performance from Pick 6 Josh Rachele, who booted two goals.
Rory Sloane, Brodie Smith and Tom Doedee all returned for Adelaide, while recruit Jordan Dawson missed with calf soreness and Wayne Milera missed to play in the Crows’ SANFL side as he ramps up to full fitness.
Meanwhile, the Power went down to the Gold Coast Suns by 21 points last week. The Power were essentially at full strength outside of Charlie Dixon’s absence (ankle), with Pick 12 Josh Sinn and recruit Jeremy Finlayson both named.
The match got underway at 4:10pm AEDT from South Australia’s Richmond Oval.
Brodie Smith copped a big knock early in the game after Dan Houston came over the top to spoil, although the ball spilled back and led to the first goal of the game from Mitch Georgiades.
The Crows were up for the fight in the first quarter against their stronger crosstown rival including a highlight chain of handballs leading to their first goal.
“I actually think they’re going better than Port Adelaide,” Hawthorn legend said of the Crows, noting Adelaide had won the contested possession count +6.
The Crows’ young brigade was lively early including draftee Josh Rachele, Ned McHenry and Harry Schoenberg.
It was a sunny, yet windy contest at the suburban ground with a strong breeze going towards the right of screen.
Meanwhile, Port wasn’t able to maximise its opportunities in front of goal, converting just one of their opening six first-quarter shots including one after the siren from Zak Butters.
Power star Robbie Gray’s day then ended premature early in the second quarter after hurting his hamstring, seen with ice on the area on the bench.
“Not ideal for a veteran to start the season,” Fox Footy commentator Anthony Hudson said.
Brereton added: “You don’t take your Ferraris out there in a practice match. You take them straight off if there’s any hint of injury.”
The Power started the second half in strong fashion after coming out with more intent, booting the opening two goals through Butters and recruit Jeremy Finlayson.
Finlayson followed it up with his second goal of the quarter after grabbing the ball out of the ruck.
“He’s sneaky like that, he’s clever,” Brereton said.
“If he can walk away with four goals, that’s a good platform for him.”
The Crows were hit with their own fresh injury blow, with star midfielder Rory Laird seen in the change rooms with an apparent wrist injury, joining Gray on the sidelines.
The Power charged out to a 33-point lead in the third quarter behind an eight-goal term.
Adelaide were able to wrestle back momentum in the fourth quarter, with Rachele continuing his strong form with his third goal for the game as a shining light for Matthew Nicks’ side.
But in the end, Port Adelaide just had to much class for their much younger crosstown rival.
THE 3-2-1 (what we learned)
3. ‘DECISION TO MAKE’ WITH PORT ADELAIDE’S FORWARD DILLEMA
Port Adelaide forward pair Jeremy Finlayson and Mitch Georgiades were firing on all cylinders, booting seven goals combined.
It come with injured forward Charlie Dixon absent after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this month, giving Finlayson and Georgiades their best chance to audition for a Round 1 spot.
Hudson highlighted how the duo’s strong performances would create selection dilemmas for Ken Hinkley regarding how many key forwards he plays if Dixon is fit for Round 1.
“If (Charlie) Dixon doesn’t make it for Round 1, they’ll all play, but if he does come back, then they have a decision to make,” he said.
Although Brereton believes Dixon and Georgiades are both locked into the best 22 and it comes down to whether or not there’s a spot for Finlayson.
“If Charlie comes back, he’s playing,” he said. “The other lock is this bloke (Georgiades. The other position, if they want three, is up for grabs.”
2. CROWS’ SHINING LIGHT CREATES ‘HOPE FOR FUTURE’
Other than a promising first half, it wasn’t a great day for Adelaide in the end after falling away in the third quarter.
But Josh Rachele was a shining light for the Crows with a team-high three-goal performance to go with eight tackles, although his impact went beyond the stat sheet.
The lively Pick 6 looked right at home on the AFL stage and made things happen whenever he touched the ball or even got near it, also constantly applying defensive pressure and bringing heat to the contest.
Rachele built off his strong two-goal performance in last week’s practice match, now looming as a certain Round 1 starter for Matthew Nicks’ side.
The rebuilding Crows will need several youngsters to step up for them to make a jump this season.
And Rachele is set to be not just an exciting player for the future, but one who can make an immediate impact in 2022.
“Adelaide fans are going to love him because he’s the real hope for the future,” Hudson said.
1. BUT WHERE ELSE WILL THE CROWS’ GOALS COME FROM?
The Crows were right in the contest early and even looked like the better side for the most part of the first half.
But there was a glaring lack of class inside their forward 50 and reliable marking targets to kick to, which proved to be a key issue.
Of course, last year’s leading goalkicker, Taylor Walker, was absent and will miss the opening three games of the season due to his racism incident last year.
The former skipper’s absence will be felt for a club that ranked bottom five in the AFL last year in points for.
So where are Adelaide’s goals going to come from?
Darcy Fogarty continues to be an enigma and hasn’t been able to consistently tie good form together.
Former Pick 2 Riley Thilthorpe has all the tools to become a star forward, but he’s still getting up to speed at AFL level.
As exciting as Rachele’s team-high two goal performance was, it highlights the club’s shortcomings in attack.
B: L.Brown 16 J.Butts 41 N.Murray 28
HB: B.Smith 33 C.Jones 1, A.McPherson 36
C: L.Sholl 38 R.Laird 29 M.Hinge 20
HF: J.Rachele 8 B.Keays 2 N.McHenry 25
F: R.Thilthorpe 7 D.Fogarty 32, E.Himmelberg 34
FOL: R.O’Brien 43 R.Sloane 9 H.Schoenberg 26
INT: L.Gollant 44 J.Soligo 14 M.Crouch 5 T.Doedee 39 L.Pedlar 10 S.Berry 21 B.Davis 40 K.Strachan 45
B: R. Burton 3 T Clurey 17 A Aliir 21
HB: D Houston 5 T Jonas 1 D Byrne-Jones 33
C: R Bonner 26 O Wines 16 K Amon 15
HF: Z Butters 18 M Georgiades 19 C Rozee 20
F J Finlayson 11 T Marshall 4 R Gray 9
FOL: S Lycett 29 W Drew 28 T Boak 10
INT: X Duursma 7 J Sinn 8 T McKenzie 12 S Hayes 25 L Jones 34 J McEntee 41 J Mead 44
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