AFL Round 6 – North Melbourne v Port: Victory just the tonic

By Paul Thomson

Whatever portion of my household budget allocated towards interstate travel to watch the Roos play was spent in the direction of Adelaide. Since 1975, Tony and I have barracked for North, some 38 years. He had just got through 12 bouts of chemotherapy and was in need of a visit. I took my 8 year old son, his Godson, along for the journey. Throughout the health scare, I had been constantly reminded of the question of mortality and the total and erratic randomness with which cancer weaves it way through society. Nobody seems out of reach. Against this backdrop, a game of football seems rather trivial.

My brother-in-law, meanwhile, flew the Roos flag at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania, reporting that the wind off the Derwent River again ripped through the crowd, leaving everyone chilly in its wake. The crowd was bigger than perhaps anticipated, largely due to Port’s undefeated start to the 2013 season under new coach Ken Hinkley. The great irony of today was that Ken was bedridden in Adelaide with a virus…maybe we should have paid him a visit! Or at least sent him some takeaway pizza at his expense!

The Roos hit quarter time 33 points in front. Port kicked the first goal through livewire rookie Jake Neade, courtesy of new captain Boak. Sudanese-born Majak Daw soon marked strongly and got the first of North’s seven goals to the end advantaged by the wind. In a ten-minute flurry, six North goals followed, two of which by Aaron Black, an indication that in his 6th game he was looking more settled at AFL level.

Port turned the tide in the second quarter, kicking with the wind and reducing the margin to 15 points at the main break. Whatever magic David Koch has worked off-field at Alberton over the summer has translated into on-field confidence and belief under Ken Hinkley and his personnel. Chad Wingard illustrated the changing face of Port, leading the charge with 2-second quarter goals and involvement in many Port forward thrusts. Boak too seems to be playing like a captain, leading from the front, although his regular off-sider Hamish Hartlett has thus far been well-held by Ryan Bastinac. Port’s mini Conan Kane Mitchell added some aggro around the ground.

North stretched out the lead to 28 points at 3 /4 time. At times North looked superior but Port never looked that far away. Given Port’s capacity to rundown West Coast from 41 points points behind last week and North’s inability to win close games against Geelong and Hawthorn in previous weeks. The game was definitely up for the taking, although North had stretched the lead to 35 pointss at the 21-minute mark of the third. Reminders of last year’s North fadeout against Port at AAMI Stadium must have been creeping back into the collective psyche of both teams. Anything was possible in the last, especially as Jay Schulz, Port’s power forward and North’s 2012 nemesis, was beginning to get more involved in the game.

North’s advantage seemed to be through their clearance work and defensive pressure across the ground. The now yip-less Lindsay Thomas kicked North’s first goal of the last, followed by a behind but that belied what was about to follow. Port goals to Gray and Lobbe reduced the margin to 21 points midway through the last. Nuggety Leigh Adams got a goal back for North, before Port’s young tyro Oliver Wines replied. Schulz then goaled and it was game on. Port seem to have wrested momentum and were running the game out better. Daniel Wells managed to weave some magic to get the ball to Drew Petrie but only a point ensued. Margin 16 points at 23-minute mark. Nerves had set in across the North supporters at Bellerive and watching from other vantage points. Hadn’t they been in this situation last week? Enter Port’s Angus Monfries to mark the ball 35metres out from the Port goal. Monfries, like Schulz, rarely misses and is a welcome addition at Alberton after coming home from Essendon. Monfries goaled and the margin sat at 10 points. Between Ben Cunnington’s and Andrew Swallow’s efforts in the last 2 minutes, winning frees by simple ‘body over the ball’ efforts, the clock runs down to the final siren with no further changes to the score.

Port had suffered its first loss in 2013. As North coach Brad Scott said, Port are doing a lot right, as you would be if your side had won its first 5 games. One senses that the new dawn at Alberton is genuine. As for the home team, The Roos won a close one in a good hitout. The standard of the game hopefully made the Hobart crowd happy for their attendance. For those of us watching courtesy of Fox Footy, the couch, good company and a few local brews made for an enjoyable afternoon, now that the nerves had subsided.

North Melbourne        7.2       9.4       12.7     14.9 (93)
Port Adelaide              1.5       6.7       7.9       12.11 (83)

GOALS
North Melbourne: Petrie 3, Black, Thomas, Adams 2, Ziebell, Wells, Wright, Goldstein, Daw
Port Adelaide: Schulz 3, Wingard 2, Gray, Neade, Broadbent, Lobbe, Wines, Monfries,  Renouf.

Best

North Melbourne: Thompson, Bastinac, Swallow, Goldstein, Wells, Cunnington

Port Adelaide: Boak, Wingard, K. Cornes, Schulz, Wines, Gray

 

Umpires: Stewart, Meredith, Mc Inerney

Crowd: 10265

Our Votes: Scott Thompson (3) dashing out of defence like Micky Martyn, without the shrek-type features, Ryan Bastinac (2) – an effective blanket on Port gun Hartlett

And Todd Goldstein (1) – it all started with Toddy’s dominance.

Comments

  1. Andrew Starkie says:

    Fearless, A typically frustrating win.

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