Five talking points from Port Adelaide vs West Coast Eagles first elimination final

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor

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    The West Coast Eagles are through to the semi-finals after a dramatic affair that will surely be in contention for the title of Game of the Year. Here’s my five talking points from the match.

    » Five talking points Sydney vs Essendon
    » Five talking points Geelong vs Richmond
    » Five talking points Adelaide vs GWS

    Free kick the wrong call, but the focus must go elsewhere
    There’s no doubt that Saturday night’s match featured one of the most thrilling finishes we’ve ever seen in the history of the game.

    For a sudden-death elimination final to not only go to extra time but then also come down to a shot on goal after the siren is about as close a call as is possible in the AFL.

    The only thing that marred the drama is that the shot on goal came from a free kick rather than a mark – regardless of what you think of the free kick itself, it’s just not quite the same.

    If you ask a Port Adelaide fan their thoughts on the game you are sure to hear some unsavoury things said about the umpiring in general and that free kick.

    And not unreasonably so – by the letter of the law it should not be one, but it is the sort of motion that is so difficult to spot in the heat of the moment and so regularly slips through.

    The truth is it took a slow-mo replay for meto work out that it shouldn’t be a free kick and I’d say most fans watching were the same. The umpires don’t get that option.

    While it’s natural to feel a bit aggrieved about it when a decision like that plays a major role in how the game ends, you have to focus on the things you can control.

    The umpires may have made one or two errors that hurt the Power’s chances, but Port Adelaide made far more themselves.

    Charlie Dixon in some ways dominated the game but was only able to kick 3.6. He ought to be celebrating a match-winning bag this morning. Port had eight more scoring shots than West Coast but still lost the game.

    Fans will no doubt feel bitter about the free kick, but the club itself can’t get stuck on it, they must keep looking for ways to improve their own performance – and they’re a professional outfit, so surely will.

    Charlie Dixon Port Adelaide Power AFL 2017

    (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    The big Dish justifies the pick
    Plenty of people raised their eyebrows when the West Coast Eagles picked up a 300-game veteran in Drew Petrie at last year’s rookie draft.

    However it’s fair to say now that he has proven himself a valuable addition to the team, revitalised by a new role as a ruck-forward.

    The opportunity to play as a third tall behind the likes of Josh J Kennedy and Jack Darling, rather than be the No.1 man at North Melbourne, has made it easier for him to kick goals.

    His impact in the ruck has been remarkable for a guy who hasn’t played there in five years – last night he and Nathan Vardy took on the All Australian ruckman in Paddy Ryder, and while Ryder won the hit-out count, it was the two big Eagles who took a decisive victory in their performance around the ground.

    There’s no doubt Petrie has justified every cent of the rookie contract paid to him – the Eagles would likely not have made finals, or won this one, without him in the side.

    Mackenzie’s incredible manoeuvre
    It was one of those classic moments that will live forever in finals history, an incredible play that kept West Coast in the game even though it won’t show up on Eric Mackenzie’s stat sheet.

    With scores level and just seconds left to play, Port Adelaide were pushing hard knowing that even a scrambled behind would probably be enough to win the game.

    Things seemed about to go that way as the ball hurtled towards the sticks after a long bomb by Jasper Pittard – enter Eric Mackenzie.

    In a split-second play he had the presence of mind to scoop the ball out of the path of the scoring line and instead put it out of the bounds as he himself collided with the behind post.

    It would’ve been so easy to give in to muscle memory and just rush it across for a minor score as every defender has done a thousand times before.

    Instead Mackenzie put his body on the line and give West Coast a chance to win, a chance that they ultimately took.

    Darling and Kennedy silence doubters
    Jack Darling has become something of a whipping boy at West Coast ever since his disastrous dropped mark in the 2015 grand final.

    Josh Kennedy doesn’t get the same level of disdain, but as I mentioned in the match preview for this one, there are always questions about his level of impact against top quality opponents.

    They answered some critics on Saturday night though with three goals each. Darling got two early to get the Eagles up and running, Kennedy got two in extra time – when the Eagles needed them most – to keep them just barely in the match.

    Who knows, perhaps this can be a turnning point for the pairing.

    If the Eagles can get consistent performances out of them going forward – in big games, not just those against the minnows of the league – they will be a far more fearsome prospect to play against.

    Jack Darling West Coast Eagles AFL 2017 tall

    (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

    Not a wasted year for Port
    The disappointment in Port Adelaide’s rooms after the game was palpable, even from hundred of kilometres away watching the match on telly.

    As a neutral fan the match was an incredible one to watch, as a Port Adelaide person it would be hard to find any kind of solace in what a great game it was.

    Possibly the only person who could have enjoyed it less would be a Dees fan, knowing that this could very easily have been them.

    They are quite right to be disappointed because it is a match they really ought to have won – they controlled it for long periods but just didn’t take their opportunities.

    However, in a year where they were widely expected to drop down the ladder, they should not discount all the good things that happened.

    A return to finals was a huge achievement, the improved form of many players impressive, and the beginning of Sam Powell-Pepper’s career heartening.

    I look forward to seeing how they respond in 2018.

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (93)

    • September 10th 2017 @ 8:40am
      Jack Roger said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:40am | ! Report

      somewhat port biased. no mention of the several dubious umpire calls against eagles or the 3 touched goals that went against them or what a dog dixon was behind play. when things don’t go ports way they start bashing everyone-‘getting physical’ or ‘playing aggressively’ it’s called, but port just start thumping people like spoiled brats, they need to stand up and learn to earn it professionally. remember it was port who knocked gaff unconscious in previous game. so this was a sweet win. with shuey’s high tackle, poetic justice, he milked it to perfection, within the limits of the game and that’s footy folks! made up for some other bad calls that went port’s way. port may have controlled most of the game but eagles withstood everything port threw at them, absorbed it and we’re still in front for most of the game, credit to their backline.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 8:02pm
        Anthony McLernon said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

        Spot on ! Umpiring in the last quarter all Ports way for the most part !

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:15pm
        Kathy Langdon said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

        Who is biased????? Footy is just game its not life and death or worth holding grudges for years on end. perhaps the AFL can name this deliberate manoeuvre and call it the Shoey! We all need a sense of humour and the ability to move on!

    • September 10th 2017 @ 8:46am
      Rossi said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Interesting view you have about the final free kick. On reviewing the replay it clearly appeared to be a hap hazard attempt at caressing Shuey’s torso when Polec’a hand effortlessly grabbed the neck/shoulder instead. Those frees get paid every day of the week for mine – sour grapes for someone with a platform perhaps?

      • Editor

        September 10th 2017 @ 11:01am
        Josh Elliott said | September 10th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        No sour grapes here, I was cheering on the Eagles for the sake of my boy Drew Petrie.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 2:07pm
          Rossi said | September 10th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

          No arguments here – Petrie is quality all round and his year speaks volume of his character.

        • September 11th 2017 @ 6:42am
          Matthew H said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          Had a good game did the dish. I was very impressed while watching it. Beautiful dob from 50 for one of his goals.

    • September 10th 2017 @ 8:48am
      Lroy said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      This harping on about Shueys free is ludicrous, its a high tackle every day of the week, once the arm is slung across his shoulder you are gone, regardless of where it started. Get the arms around the waist, drive in with the shoulder, you wont go high.

      Port got a goal that was touched by McGovern and in another similar situation the Eagles were denied a goal that wasn’t touched… if those calls go the other way, its a ten point turnaround in West Coasts favour.

      What an Amazing game, that’s why we love footy.

      And its almost ten years to the day that the Eagles blew a match winning lead against the Power in Adelaide to lose a tight contest back in 2007. Judd was on one leg and ended up at Carlton, Power went on to meet the Cats in the GF… which didn’t go so well for them so we wont go any further with that. 😉

      • September 10th 2017 @ 10:03am
        I ate pies said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Spot on Lroy. That was just a poor tackle

      • September 10th 2017 @ 10:13am
        Griffo said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        Then they lost in extra time to Collingwood.

      • Columnist

        September 10th 2017 @ 10:45am
        Ryan Buckland said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        That’s not the case though. If a tackle starts correctly (which Polec’s did) but slips high as the result of the shrugging action of the tackled player it should be called play on. That was a rule change made at the start of this year. It is impossible to adjudicate though so I understand why it was paid as a high contact free kick.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm
          Lroy said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          His hand slaps him on the shoulder, bounces up and grabs him around the face…. the hand pulls his jaw back and then ends up over the shoulder..!!!

          in the history of the AFL there’s never been a more clear example of a ”too high ” tackle.

          • Roar Guru

            September 10th 2017 @ 1:40pm
            Cat said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            Just remember this when you complain about a Selwood high free kick next time.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm
              Lroy said | September 10th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

              ” Just remember this when you complain about a Selwood high free kick next time.”

              As far as I’m aware neither Port nor the Eagles have anyone of that name playing for them, so what is the point of your comment?

              Maybe you should go to the ”Geelong Suck Again in a Final ” forum and vent your spleen to those guys.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 10th 2017 @ 4:12pm
          Lamby said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

          It is the ‘Selwood’ rule. Though Selwood still managed to get a free kick a game this way. They have paid a lot of these this year.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 4:25pm
          Luke said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

          You’re wrong, Josh, even the AFL have come out now and confirmed the free kick was there.

          • September 11th 2017 @ 1:39pm
            BigBear said | September 11th 2017 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            The AFL always stands behind it’s umpires decisions publicly. Regardless how rubbish the call.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 2:37pm
              Luke said | September 11th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

              Rubbish, they’ve called out their bad calls on numerous occasions. This was such an obvious free kick, to say otherwise is fanciful.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm
        13th Man said | September 10th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        Agree completely Lroy,
        High tackle every day of the week and I’d be filthy if it wasn’t given to my team.
        Port cooked themselves anyway by not kicking straight and West Coast took full advantage.
        As much as it hurts to say it as a Freo fan, West Coast deserved that win and I think they can go on next week as well.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 7:49pm
        Philby said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

        Absolutely correct. 100% a free kick, regardless of what pendantic bureaucrats would have it.

    • Roar Guru

      September 10th 2017 @ 8:50am
      AdelaideDocker said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      Thanks Josh, some excellent comments in there that I’d certainly agree with.

      Mackenzie’s action’s were the single turning point in that game, I would argue. If he didn’t make the split second call, the ball would have gone over the goal line, and Port would have won the game. I’d almost guarantee that would be the case. It was just such an amazing, awesome action. Props to Mackenzie; he not only provided us neutrals with 10 more minutes of enthralling game time, he single-handedly gave his side the opportunity to win the game. And they made the most of that chance!

      Your first talking point is a good one as well. I’ve certainly seen quite a bit of agitation from Port supporters about that final call. For mine, it was a correct one, but I can see why some believe it was a wrong call. It’s difficult, I know, but I can’t begrudge the umpire for awarding the call. That’s just how the game is sometimes. Port themselves will be fine. They made great strides this year. I expect them to be in finals contention again next year, and I don’t think they should be down and out about this game for too long.

      I’d also like to quickly acknowledge the performances of some of the Eagle’s veterans. You mentioned Petrie, who was great, but Priddis and Mitchell were also fantastic (59 touches between them, and a couple of goals!), and I for one am glad to see them get at least one more game!

      Finally, I’d give West Coast a bit of a chance next weekend. They’ll probably lose, but if the get a quick start on GWS, I’d say they’re a chance. Wouldn’t surprise me if it turns into something as close as this one was, though…

    • Roar Guru

      September 10th 2017 @ 8:51am
      gameofmarks said | September 10th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      For me the talking points are:

      1. How the umpires continue to ruin this game. That was not a free kick to Shuey, but we’ll take it.
      2. Do they still pay a free kick for puch in the back. Vardy and Petrie will argue they don’t. How many times did Ryder give these two a shove in the ruck…unbelievable. If anything is so obvious as a push in the back in the ruck its at a stoppage.
      3. The free kick to Port directly in front of the WCE goal should have been reversed to Petrie when Polec shoved him to the ground. Maybe the free kick to Sheuy was the square up for that missed free kick.
      4. McKenzie tried his hardest to ensure the WCE lost the game, except for that rushed out of bounds – well done Easy, but pack your bags mate you aint getting another contract next year.
      5. Pridda played like the champion he is.
      6. Mitchell and the WCE continually handballed to players under pressure.
      7. Simpson does not have a Plan B when the opposition gains the momentum. FFS Simpson try something different – Put Hurn in the middle, Darling on a wing. Just friggin try anything.
      8. Petrie you star. We don’t win the game without you mate. Well done!

      • September 10th 2017 @ 9:13am
        Dier-ba-zor said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        The free kick was right, his hand was over the shoulder.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 9:22am
        Lroy said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        Point 6 is crucial… Simpson needs to throw his flow chart and marketing manual out the window. WCE turned the ball over in close by going for that extra handball when a kick would have solved their problems.

        Handball to a player in the clear, he kicks, thats it. The ball is now 50 yards downfield out of the danger zone. A number of times they turned around the half back line, Port go forward and goal. That overuse of the handball has already cost them a number of times this year.

        During finals, when in doubt, kick!!

        And point 7, yep, agree with that as well. Malthouse was the master of closing a game down. Everyone mans up, you kick long, play for territory, force the opposition to gamble, if they make a mistake, you get a goal on the rebound.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 2:10pm
          Rossi said | September 10th 2017 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

          Lroy- you make some quality comments…

          • September 10th 2017 @ 4:45pm
            Lroy said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

            cheers mate 😉

        • September 10th 2017 @ 9:11pm
          BigAl said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

          Sorry roy, but blind kicks out of defence are the worst !
          There is just as much chance that the opposition will mark it as a team mate – and when that happens they can take an …unblind… kick into their forward line !
          The key to this game is retaining posession, with kicks to a contest kept to a minimum, and hopefully where your team will win that contest.
          The reason the players are handballing is that they are waiting for the opportunity that the team can place a good kick to advantage. Sometimes this comes unstuck – but that’s the luck of the game.

          Your line “Handball to a player in the clear, he kicks, thats it. The ball is now 50 yards downfield…” sounds like something out of a 1960s coaching manual !

          • September 11th 2017 @ 6:49am
            Lroy said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

            If you handball to a guy who is running past and he is in the clear, why will there be a ”blind kick” out of defense?? The receiving player can see what’s in front of him.

            • September 11th 2017 @ 8:46pm
              BigAl said | September 11th 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

              Sure he (may) be able to see what’s in front of him, but if he doesn’t see a team mate who is in a position down field (or even just elsewhere on the field) who has a far greater than 50% chance of effectively receiving a kick from himself then he has to try and ensure that his team retains posession by either bouncing and baulking(not usually recommended) or handball to a team mate who then does the same…

              Just kicking down field and hoping for the best is kicking blind !

        • September 11th 2017 @ 6:48am
          Matthew H said | September 11th 2017 @ 6:48am | ! Report

          You are right but sometimes what you don’t see on TV is what is 50m down field… which is often nothing the way the game is played at the moment. That’s why teams run it rugby style so often this year. I personally don’t like it, but aside from a rule keeping some players in each 50 at all times I cant see it changing in a hurry.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 1:07pm
        Shane said | September 10th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        It wasn’t Polec, it was Pittard that shoved Petrie. Would have been harsh to have that one reversed as it happens often, but on the other hand the reversals do happen as well. I think the tackle by Polec on Shuey should have been play on, the player dropped in the tackle. It was a bit sloppy by Polec though and players need to be extra careful in these situations. Basically Port lost the game through poor kicking and the Eagles made the most of their opportunities. The 6 shots to 3 in extra time (i think Port may have had some more shots that did not score as well) to me sums up the dominance Port had in this period. They missed two shots they should have got and perhaps should have been a little more calculated with some other shots at goal. Was the soccer goal that was not reviewed off Kennedy’s boot touched?
        Ultimately Port let the opportunity slip through their hands, and gee, with a down on form and injured GWS and Richmond standing between Port and a GF this loss will burn. WCE will likely not progress but a GF cannot be ruled out.

      • September 10th 2017 @ 7:50pm
        Philby said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

        I agree with what you say about push in the back – it’s almost gone out of the game altogether, and not paying it leads to a whole raft of other problems in officiating games.

    • September 10th 2017 @ 9:01am
      Luke said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Stop it, you’re embarrassing yourself if you say the free kick wasn’t there. It was a poorly executed tackle and every one lifts their arms while they’re running so that’s irrelevant, but you’d think Shuey was Bruce Lee the way some Port fans are carrying on. Classic coat hanger, almost took his head off but not intentional so doesn’t warrant a suspension but the umpires are obligated to protect the head and the AFL would have been embarrassed had that not been paid.

      • Roar Guru

        September 10th 2017 @ 9:34am
        gameofmarks said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        The umpires came out at the start of the season and stated that they would call play on if the player being tackled contributed to the high contact by either lowering the knees or lifting their arm. Shuey lifted his right arm which resulted in the high contact. Polec’s right arm grabbed Shuey across his upper arm and below his shoulder. Then Shuey lifted his right arm which forced Polec’s arm to slip around Shuey’s neck. The right call under the rules was play on IMO.

        • September 10th 2017 @ 9:56am
          Luke said | September 10th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          If you’re implying that Shuey tried to deflect the tackle you’re wrong. Stop watching in slo-mo and you’ll see the tackle is started and done with-in a quarter of a second, he didn’t have time to react. There was no ducking as the umpire correctly made clear. No lowering of the knees, no one runs at 90 degrees stiff as a board. That has been paid a free kick since the inception of the game.

          • Roar Guru

            September 10th 2017 @ 10:07am
            gameofmarks said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

            Go and watch the Fox Footy video where Dermie, Jordan Lewis, Cam Mooney all agree the free kick should not have been paid..

            • September 10th 2017 @ 10:32am
              Bob said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

              Seriously? you care what those Vic-centric ‘experts’ think or say. It was rubbish vision pretending to be informative. It happens so quick, the instinctive reaction is to raise your arm in deflection mode. To follow the logic of others is to say that Shuey was running in one direction, then he flung his head sideways, raising his arm and spun his body around in a circle and threw himself to the ground, while Polec was an innocent bystander touching him gently on the shoulder?
              Shuey is a professional at milking those within the limits and that’s footy!

              • Roar Guru

                September 10th 2017 @ 10:48am
                gameofmarks said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

                I guess you are a typical one-eyed WCE supporter who would be screaming No Free Kick if it was the other way around.

                Go and watch the link Mohawk has provided below. The McLean example is exactly what happened with the Polec/Shuey incident.

                Please don’t make the umpires job any easier in ruining the game by interpreting the rules of the game with one eye!!!!

              • September 10th 2017 @ 3:49pm
                Freo As said | September 10th 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

                GoM is 100% on the mark. The AFL claimed they were going to ignore the Selwood special this year. The Eagles train that stuff week in week out.

              • September 10th 2017 @ 4:26pm
                Luke said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

                AFL have now officially confirmed the free kick was 100% there.

              • September 10th 2017 @ 10:35pm
                Freo As said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

                That’s about as surprising as Schuey getting a free for high contact.


                The AFL are at risk of a critical deficit of credibility.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 11:03am
              Ken said | September 10th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

              Oh jeez yeah let’s listen to those three Victorian flogs

              • September 10th 2017 @ 11:22am
                Internal Fixation said | September 10th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                Victorian flogs experienced in the AFL commentating on a non Victorian contest v Some keyboard warrior called Ken.

                I wonder who has more credibility?

            • September 10th 2017 @ 11:19am
              Internal Fixation said | September 10th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report

              Game of Marks is spot on.

              And he is a WCE supporter.

              I hate port as a Crows fan. I am glad to see the back of em in many respects.

              But it wasn’t a free kick.

              Sheuy milked it beautifully by raising his R arm to force the tackle up.

              The tackle was legal when made.

              Port supporters should be angry at their kicking accuracy though.

              • September 11th 2017 @ 11:10pm
                Rossi said | September 11th 2017 @ 11:10pm | ! Report

                A player has every right to break a tackle – instinctively trying to shrug it or go underneath it does not necessarily mean milking a free – breaking the tackle is first priority failing that – legally disposing of the ball…

            • September 10th 2017 @ 4:09pm
              Luke said | September 10th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

              The McLean incident is clearly not the same, he raises his elbow high above his shoulder. Shuey doesn’t raise his arm above his shoulder, it’s totally normal to raise your arm when you’re trying to run, and you can see Shuey push off strong for the run with his right foot. For Dermott to suggest Shuey “contributed to his own endangerment” is laughable. If you were talking about an elbow being thrown up high such as McLean did, that is a different matter. The umpire definitely made the right call on this. It’s his job to interpret the rules and he must do so in real time, not with the benefit of three different camera views and a keyboard. Seriously, what you are in-effect suggesting is that there should be a third umpire for tackling decisions when a team wants to review them, it’s simply not realistic, the umpire made the only call that he could have made. Even all the Port fans thought it was a free at the time, you struggle to hear any boos when it happens or on the replay.

            • September 10th 2017 @ 10:57pm
              Bob said | September 10th 2017 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

              So if I don’t agree with you then i’m a one-eyed supporter? Fox Footy panel are a bunch of self-serving muppets pretending to be experts. how can you take them seriously?…then they tried to make a case out of mitchell spitting. everybody is spitting everywhere in a footy game. shuey habitually spits and in fact spat during his on camera interview post game. they just hate west coast, their bias always shows. And Port behaved like angels? give me a break. Loved the ‘adult’ doll in the crowd!

        • September 10th 2017 @ 7:52pm
          Philby said | September 10th 2017 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

          Umpires at the start of the season also said they’d be cracking down on deliberate out of bounds plays, and thank god they’ve eased up on that one too.

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