Port Adelaide defeated Carlton 13.10 (88) to 11.6 (72) on Saturday night, and here are my takeaways from the clash
Let’s start with the top five players.
In the best comeback story since Stallone himself lit up the silver screen, Rocky was best on ground, with 37 touches and 12 clearances in another dominant midfield performance. He now has had 81 touches in two weeks!
The highlight was his fake and shimmy in the last quarter before he kicked sublimely inside 50. It looked good on TV, but silky smooth in person from my view on the Adelaide Oval hill.
Long live the pig!
The captain is back in the middle and is making his presence felt, doing the grunt work and feeding those around him.
He may no longer be the official captain but it’s hard to think of him as anything else. If no one else is using the No.1, lets give it back to Boaky.
I was unsure of how Lycett would fit into the team, but he’s proved me and any other doubters wrong.
He was a man mountain who took important marks, kicked an important goal and played like another midfielder at times.
Having left the premiers to return to his boyhood Port Adelaide there is a real feel-good story emerging, with a brute of a man at its centre.
After having a nearly there week last week, things fell for Ebert this time around as he snagged three goals, impressing deep in the forward line and working up the ground with his phenomenal work rate.
Something just feels right about seeing Ebert in the forward line and every Port person knows what I’m talking about.
With his clean hands and ability to turn on a dime, Rozee was throwing up shades of Robbie Gray throughout the game.
The youngster appears a clever and skilful player whose most impressive attribute in this game was his ability to bounce back from missing a goal to score two in a minute and crucially swing the game in Port’s favour.
I’m perhaps swung by the fact it happened right in front of me, but when Zak Butters fed Steven Motlop the ball he appeared to be blindsided to a Carlton defender charging him down from behind.
But instead he mastered both space and time – not to mention peripheral vision – to embarrass a Carlton defender and put a dagger to Carlton’s heart.
Ken Hinkley resisted the temptation to bring back experienced players and brought his new-look team home unchanged.
There is something infectious about both the new talent and Port’s new look run, and gun game plan and the Port faithful responded with their feet to turn out in good numbers for a twilight game in bad conditions against a perennial cellar dweller.
A new hope is born.
Late in the game, Butters slipped a slick no-look handball to the on running Willem Drew who in turn found Xavier Duursma burning through the centre corridor, leaving Marc Murphy trailing impotently in his wake, before sending a piercing ball deep into the forward line and nestling it on Motlop’s chest.
It felt like a real statement that these young fellas aren’t just here to compete, they are here to take over.
The questionable brain department
Butters was brutally locked up in a tackle in the third quarter after trying to do too much in the back line.
It was a questionable decision, but what was most impressive was the way he brushed off what could have been a confidence shattering moment for a young player and proved influential in the last quarter.
The young bucks may be grabbing all the attention but it’s the old bulls who are doing the heavy lifting.
There is something incomparably exciting about young players bursting onto the scene, that moment when their potential is yet to be fully gauged and appears limitless.
Certainly, I can’t remember such a rampaging, rampant start from a group of first-year players.
They look like they will run through a brick wall for Hinkley and come out fighting the other side, which is infecting the whole team.
However, it is the stalwarts such as Boak, Gray, Rockliff, Ebert and the young but developed group of players such as Sam Powell-Pepper who are providing the platform for the young guns to shine.
The mix of precocious young talent with experienced pros appears to be a potent mix and while surely tougher tasks and dips in form lie ahead, the potential of this Port team appears as limitless as the futures of its new era players.