AFL Round 14 Preview – Port Adelaide v Collingwood: Everything to play for

In years gone by there hasn’t been much special about when Port Adelaide and Collingwood meet. That all changed in September last year. Now, from this year forth, there will always be something unique and touching about this rivalry. But before I get to that, let me quickly go through some other factors making this game one that is worth tuning into.

First of all let’s look at the most obvious point, ladder positions. Collingwood and Port Adelaide, both fighting to cement a spot in the top eight, sit in seventh and eighth position respectively. A win for Port Adelaide means overtaking Collingwood on percentage while a win for Collingwood gives the club a little breathing space from the teams below.

Secondly, the result really could go either way. After all, the season has been a bit of a roller coaster for both clubs. Port Adelaide started the season strongly, winning their first five games. The Power then dropped down the ladder rapidly after losing the next five. If you have a look at the fixture, which for Port has gotten progressively more difficult, then this may not surprise you. What was surprising however, was the club’s performance last Saturday. In tough conditions, Port Adelaide outplayed the reigning premiers in the last quarter to beat the Swans by 18 points and create the biggest upset of the season to date. The Power goes into the clash against Collingwood on a two game winning streak.

On the other hand, Collingwood come into the game fresh from the bye and keen to get the second half of the season off to a good start. There has been much talk of Collingwood’s yo-yo performance this year, both within and outside the sanctum of the football club. While the aim of a top four position and a grand final appearance seemed reasonable at the start of the year, the club’s main concern has now turned to establishing a place within the eight. The trend of winning one week and losing the next is in stark contrast to the lengthy winning streaks of previous years. However, Collingwood has come into some form of late with three consecutive wins.

In fact, Port Adelaide and Collingwood have had similar seasons in terms of winning the games they have been expected to win and losing to the teams ahead of them. Collingwood’s exception is the win against Geelong while Port has Saturday’s heroics against Sydney. This match then becomes a must-win for both teams.

But it is not just objective and form that these two teams have in common. There is another motivator, another factor in this game that makes it so special. John McCarthy. Teammate and friend. Nearly every player who runs out onto the footy ground Saturday afternoon has been impacted by his death. Both clubs have had to grapple with the grief of losing him. Although the round one match between Port Adelaide and Melbourne was the official tribute by the AFL to John McCarthy, the clash between the Power and the Pies will forever be his match. His two teams go head to head, his closest friends will line up on one another and every footballer will play with him in mind.

There is nothing more these teams could play for. Saturday’s clash has everything. But when it’s all over, when hands are shaken and the teams head into the rooms as victors or the defeated, it will be a rare occasion when every player knows and understands that football isn’t everything.

About Siobhan Calafiore

I'm a passionate Collingwood supporter with a love for writing and am currently studying journalism at RMIT University.

Leave a Comment