Brisbane overcame their goal-kicking yips to boot their highest score of the AFL season in Saturday night’s win over the Western Bulldogs.
Tonight’s game between Melbourne and Port Adelaide is another chance for the Power to convince the doubters that they’re the real deal.
The Power’s only two losses have come against the teams occupying places in the top four, and they’re yet to play Richmond and Geelong. However, Melbourne are 13th on the ladder with only three wins, so Port Adelaide are rightly warm favourites for tonight’s game at the Gabba.
Their last meeting was way back in Round 1 of 2019, and the 34 previous encounters have resulted in 21 wins to the Power. In head-to-head battles between the two coaches Ken Hinkley leads Simon Goodwin 2-1.
For Melbourne, Nathan Jones has been retained for his third game of the year after 13 disposals and one goal in last week’s narrow loss against Brisbane. It means his chance of becoming an AFL top 100 player before the end of this truncated season is still alive based on form and fitness. However, his other two possible milestones – 300 games and joining David Neitz as the Demons’ greatest ever game player – now appear out of reach with only eight rounds remaining after tonight and with Melbourne’s chances of making the finals diminishing.
The good news is that Demons top 100 game player (and goal scorer) Tom McDonald returns to the team to play his 167th game and pass Don Cordner, one of the famous Cordner brothers, on the list. Dr Don Cordner played for Melbourne with distinction in the 1940s, winning the Brownlow Medal (1946), Melbourne’s best and fairest (1943) and playing in two premierships, the second of which as captain.
Neville Jetta, also a top 100 game player at Melbourne, has been omitted from the team, but this week champion ruckman Max Gawn will become the outright No. 100 player on the Demons elite top 100 game players list. Last week Gawn joined the hot seat with the three players who had qualified for the top 100 game players list during there careers: Jack Collins (1923-31), 1978 best and fairest winner Garry Baker (1974-81) and Glenn Lovett (1987-99), who also won the best and fairest in 1992.
This week Gawn will play his 128th game and those three former players will no longer be considered elite members of the VFL/AFL’s oldest club, although both Baker and Lovett will still get invites as top 100 goal scorers events at Melbourne.
As a much younger club, having been in the AFL for only 24 years, the Power can boast a lot more current top 100 game players than Melbourne’s four, and tonight Hamish Hartlett, Tom Jonas and Ollie Wines (whose careers are currently running in tandem) together with Tom Clurey and Dan Houston will all achieve historical milestones.
While Melbourne will put up a good fight, my tip is for Port Adelaide by 14 points.