Port tear Suns apart as AFL lands in China

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    Port Adelaide have reaped rich AFL reward from their first China expedition, thumping Gold Coast by 72 points in Shanghai.

    While the jury will be out for several years yet about whether the concept can work, the 16.14 (110) to 4.14 (38) demolition was a massive result on and off the field for the Power.

    A third of the way through the season, Port go into the bye with a 5-3 record.

    A week after an outstanding win over Geelong, and plenty of pre-match talk about the need for greater consistency, the Suns had a shocker.

    The first AFL match for premiership points outside of Australia and NZ happened because of Port’s determination to build a presence in China.

    After weeks of speculation about air quality and logistics, the game went off without any noticeable dramas.

    The sold-out crowd of about 10,118 featured a healthy contingent of locals among the fans who travelled from Australia, along with expats.

    The temperature was in the high 20s and the air quality was no worse than a similar windy, hazy day in Sydney or Melbourne.

    Indeed, the biggest drama happened on the field, a few minutes before the opening bounce.

    Gold Coast defender Rory Thompson, who was returning from a quad muscle injury, hurt a hamstring during the warm-up.

    Keegan Brooksby was called out of an official function to take Thompson’s place in the side.

    Michael Barlow gave the Suns a good start when his scrambled kick was ruled a goal after a score review.

    But Port quickly took control and led by 21 points at quarter-time.

    They killed off the match with six goals to one in the second term to lead by 42 at the main break.

    Port’s Justin Westhoff provided the highlight of the match in their second-quarter onslaught when he soccered through a spectacular goal from the boundary.

    In a game defined by its travel challenges, Port midfielder Brad Ebert brushed aside his particularly tough lead-up to be best afield.

    Ebert had 30 disposals after only flying to Shanghai on Friday, following the birth of his son Leo.

    Jarrod Harbrow continued his strong form to be best for the Suns on a dirty day for the expansion club.

    There was plenty of pre-game speculation about Robbie Gray’s fitness and the Port star was clearly not 100 per cent, but he kicked two goals.

    Suns ace Gary Ablett was well off his best, despite racking up 29 disposals.

    © AAP 2017

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