AFL Round 21 – Gold Coast v Port Adelaide: All hail the Ranga Prince of Alberton



Dan Hansen                                                                           


It takes courage to use a first round draft pick on a young ruckman.  Few clubs do it. Ruckmen take a long time to develop and often don’t come good until their mid twenties. Clubs now prefer to pick the pockets of other clubs and ruckmen have become the most traded players as a total percentage.  Free agency will not only make this worse and will add to the average pay pack of the good ruckmen. The last time the Swans took a skinny eighteen year old and developed him into a ruckman they were known as South Melbourne. They prefer to use their early draft picks on midfielders and raid other clubs of ruckmen approaching their mid twenties and who are playing in the shadows of an established ruckman. They pinched Darren Jolly, Mark Seaby and Shane Mumford from other clubs and found their back up ruckman from the Canadian national rugby team. Other clubs are starting to follow Sydney’s lead. Richmond have nabbed Ivan Maric from Adelaide, the Crows have taken Carlton’s fourth choice ruckman, Sam Jacobs, and turned him into an All Australian Squad member. That’s why Collingwood should be commended for using pick eighteen on Brodie Grundy, and Port Adelaide should likewise be applauded for using their first round draft pick of 2007 on a skinny kid from the Eastern Ranges.


Matthew Lobbe had an ignominious start to his career at Alberton. His original SANFL club was the Port Adelaide Magpies but he failed to get a regular SANFL game there. In his second season he was spending so much time in the SANFL Reserves he transferred to West Adelaide in order to play SANFL League games. He made his debut in round one of 2010 but had to step aside when Dean Brogan returned from the injury list. In his next few years he was in and out of the side. He was quite useful around the ground but was often beaten in the ruck contests. All this changed in mid 2013 when he started to repeatedly beat his opponents in the ruck. It is no coincidence Port’s major jump in form coincides with Lobbe’s emergence as a ruckman.


This brings us to the Gold Coast vs Port Adelaide game at Carrara. This was an important game for both clubs. Gold Coast needed a win to stay in finals contention and Port needed a win to remain in the running for a top four spot. There was also heavy rain predicted for the game and the one thing you know is going to happen in wet weather is there is going to be plenty of ball ups. This is where Lobbe was going to be important.


I have a niece who lives in Southeast Queensland and my brother goes up each year, mostly to visit his daughter but he usually times it to correspond with a Port game. He invited me to go up as I have in previous years but this time I decided to remain in Sydney. As I was catching the train to the Royal Exhibition Hotel in Surry Hills I started to regret not going. When I sat down with about a dozen others from the NSW Port Adelaide supporters group and saw the conditions at Carrara the regrets quickly dissipated.


The game was a typical wet weather affair. Scrap around for the ball, slam it on your boot and then scrap around for the ball again. The Gold Coast had the better start and halfway through the first term had fourteen points on the board before Port first scored a behind. From that point on Port dominated. Mostly thanks to Lobbe in the middle. Lobbe not only won the vast majority of hitouts but also cleared the ball forward again and again. The ball seemed to spend most of the game inside Port’s forward fifty but Port couldn’t seem to score goals. And every time Port looked like taking control of the game Harley Bennell would initiate a fast rebound into the Gold Coast’s open forward line and score a goal. Port seemed to have total control of the game but did not bridge the initial fourteen point gap until deep into the third term.


Port also dominated for the last quarter and a half with Robbie Gray winning clearance after clearance and Hamish Hartlett breaking out of packs and kicking the ball long to dangerous positions. Late in the game and when Port seemed to have the win in the bag Harley Bennell produced a magic goal from the boundary pocket to get the Gold Coast within a kick of an improbable win. However Port settled late in the game and Chad Wingard goaled to seal a well earned victory. In the post game analysis we all agreed that it was Lobbe’s tireless work in the ruck that delivered Port success.


Earlier this year Foxtel ran a really bad reality TV show called “I Wanna Marry Harry”. The premise of the show was to have twelve women compete for the affections of a Prince Harry lookalike but the show only ever aired four episodes in the US and was a ratings flop in the UK and Australia. Lobbe was quite remarkable against the Gold Coast, with his fifty six hitouts, eleven contested possessions and seven clearances. However if he really wants to impress me he should go in as Prince Harry’s doppelganger for series two of “I Wanna Marry Harry” and make that a success too.


GOLD COAST                      3.2          4.3          5.4          7.5 (47)

PORT ADELAIDE                                1.5          2.8          4.12        7.14 (56)



Gold Coast: Bennell 2, Kolodjashnij, Matera, Lynch, Harbrow, Gorringe

Port Adelaide: Westhoff, Gray, White, Hartlett, Schulz, Moore, Wingard



Gold Coast: Bennell, Lynch, Prestia, McKenzie, Rischitelli, Harbrow

Port Adelaide: Lobbe, Hartlett, Westhoff, Gray, Jonas, Broadbent


Umpires: Fisher, Nicholls and Hay


Official crowd: 10,042 at Metricon Stadium


Our Votes: 3 Lobbe (PA), 2 Bennell(GC), 1 Hartlett (PA)



  1. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Spot on Danny , the power and the pies deserve considerable credit for having the guts and forward planning to actually try and plan and develop a list where the ruckman is the key to a shot at the holy grail ( you mention some of the successful players in the merry go round of ruckman how bout the duds like Renouf and , mr Gale aka Hampson who wouldn’t get a game for the scum if they were , 5 foot 8 )
    As a ranga I loved your , Prince Harry add on .thanks for checking in on the scores of the important games of the day at , Bob Neil number 1 !

  2. G’day DV!
    Happy Enough Port Fan here!
    Enjoyed the Read,


  3. Thanks Dan; Lobbe was a leviathan on Saturday and agree with your analysis. He would have made a better contestant on I wanna Marry Harry, too.

    I would have had Gray as my second best but was great to see the Hoff back to his best.

    Was a strange game. Apart from the first 20 minutes, in which Port was playing dry weather football, we dominated the game in all facets except the important one on the scoreboard.

    Hopefully the Power have turned a corner and I for one, am looking forward to a beautiful evening (forecast fine with a top of 18) at the Oval this Friday night against Carlton. Need Wingard and Ebert to find top form for a good crack at the finals.

    It looks like Monfries and Trengove will be back this week but I hope that this doesn’t mean Logan gets sent back to the Maggies. I love his desperate play.

  4. Dave Brown says

    Good work Dan. As the (self-appointed) spokesman for Ginger Liberation (or GLib for short), we will soon be taking ownership of all slang terms for people on the orange spectrum, ‘ranga’ included. I trust from your, no doubt, shock of orange hair you will continue to be able to use the term once the revolution has been televised.

    Spot on re. Lobbe. Interesting as well that he was rucking against Gorringe (one of the two words in the English language that rhymes with orange… coincidence? I think not) who at 10 is possibly the highest drafted ruckman since NicNait. Contrast that with Norwood ruckman, Baulderstone who has been invited the state draft combine at age 23. Is that the way of the future?

  5. Lobbe has really come to the fore that guy..he works so hard and obviously another great decision by our recruiters. Enjoyed reading that..thanks for sharing.

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