Port power home again in final term
Port Adelaide have become the AFL’s comeback specialists, this time overcoming Essendon in the last term to win by three points at Etihad Stadium.
Making the most of their goalkicking accuracy, the Power came from behind in the last term for the fourth time this year to win 17.7 (109) to 16.10 (106).
While the Power improved to five wins and two losses, Essendon languish on 2-5.
There had been plenty of talk out of Essendon this week about the need to turn around their poor form against Port, but this was the Power’s 12th win in their last 13 matches against the Bombers.
Power coach Mark Williams praised his team’s resilience, saying it was generating strong self-belief.
“It’s pretty unique, but it’s a wonderful trait to have and it’s always fantastic to be a coach of a side (which does that), you’re so proud,” Williams said.
“There was no individual person who did anything great in the last quarter, there were 21 (Warren Tredrea was injured), it was brilliant.
“You get a lot of confidence and a lot of belief from the last few weeks.
“It’s happened a lot of times this year, so it can’t be a fluke, it’s to do with their mindset and a just a great effort – all credit to the players.”
Essendon had better statistics in most areas – possessions, contested possessions, tackles and marks.
But Port were always to bring the game back on their terms when Essendon threatened to break clear.
The Bombers also paid for some dreadful turnovers, particularly when it looked as though they were ready to put Port away.
A crucial moment came late in the third term when Essendon led by 10 points.
Captain Jobe Watson, one of their best, was charging forward and a certain goal loomed, but he took one bounce too many and Nathan Krakouer laid a brilliant tackle.
Port goalled soon after in a massive two-goal turnaround.
“Everyone’s hurting … the effort was sound, our tackling and the way we went after the contest,” said Essendon coach Matthew Knights.
“Sometimes we just have to mature when we have the ball and we have the game where we want it, just with a little bit of decision-making and a little bit of finishing.
“Port’s finishing was efficient and brutal, they just nailed every opportunity they had, that was just the difference in the end.”
In their pre-game talk, Essendon had some pointed comments about Power ruckman Dean Brogan and he responded with a strong game.
He hurt his knee early, but was outstanding in the final term.
Midfielder Danyle Pearce celebrated his 100th game with a best-afield performance, picking up 29 possessions and kicking two goals.
Pearce’s raking left-foot kicks were frequently decisive.
“We made a 100-game (video) for him and he’s got some of the best highlights you’ll ever see,” Williams said.
The win came at a cost – Tredrea will be out of action for at least a month after hurting the tib-fib joint at the top of his ankle in the second term.
Williams said it was an exhausting game and said the Port coaching box struggled without assistant Matthew Primus, who is on a two-game AFL suspension for a gambling offence.© AAP 2013