AFL – Round 22: Port Adelaide v Carlton: Restored Focus

20/20 vision‘Restored Focus’

by John Proeve

High expectations centre on the last home game for Port at Adelaide Oval for the 2014 season.  The Friday night time slot and a marketing hype around ‘black and white night’ celebrating 100th anniversary of the ‘Invincibles’, Champions of Australia triumph against Carlton result in a record crowd of 52,505.

The Fans rollick the Power theme song as Port run onto the hallowed Adelaide Oval. Captain Boak wins the toss and Port opens the game kicking to the Cathedral End. Carlton control the game early with tempered, precision play but are unable to make the most of their opportunities.  The signs of an unleashed Port are evident as they pepper scoring shots, finally registering their first goal 14 minutes in after a classy Gray manoeuvre to release the footy to a free Wingard in the goal square. Carlton makes a quick reply through Waite.

Wingard is showing signs of a return to form with trade mark run and pin point disposal. Meade making the most of his limited opportunities this season is creating options across half forward.  Schultz benefits from the work of both players to score two goals in succession.  Gray caps of an inspired quarter with a left foot goal. By the quarter time break Port has amassed 5.6 to Carlton’s 1.2.

What emerged from the half way mark of the first quarter was the release of 10 weeks of tension for the Power players. They unfurled their trade mark ‘run at all cost’ game and started to take risks through self-belief. Trengrove and Carlile are a real presence in the re stabilised Port backline.

Carlton open the second quarter with goal to Bryce Gibbs from a tight angle. Port replies with a goal to Ebert from a turnover and another goal to Neade created by slick handball from Gray.  Port are pressing hard with very quick play on football and deep penetrating kicks into the forward 50. Uncustomary, Schultz misses a shot from close in front. Carlton are struggling to execute their game plan because of the relentless running game of Port.

The positive signs for the Blues are very few with Bryce Gibbs and Levi Casboult and Sam Rowe the only players really making their presence felt.

At the half time break Port leads by 50 points.

The spirit of the Power fans surges to a crescendo during the third quarter, which is undoubtedly quite intimidating for the already diminished Carlton players. The sting has gone out of the game as Carlton succumbs time and time again to the pressure of the fast running Power onslaught. Neade continues to be a menace to Carlton scoring two goals in succession. Likewise Westoff escapes to kick a soccer goal and another from a mark taken from a tumbling kick by Neade.  Carlton’s signature players such as Judd, Waite and Yarran are having little impact on the game. Carlton’s third goal kicked by White comes at 25 minute mark, 55 minutes after their previous goal.

The surge of Port Adelaide brought 7 goals 3 compared to a solitary Carlton goal by the quarter’s end.

With the game all but over at three quarter time, it is just a matter of how big the margin is going to be and what records might be broken! Port players largely unseen during its mid-season hiatus are getting into the flow of the game and gaining much confidence in themselves and their teammates. Hartlett, Pittard, Polec and Jonas continue to provide constant run and precision delivery into the Port forward line. Gray is stacking up quality possessions in a BOG performance. Unusual for Port games, a stream of fans are leaving the game before the final siren. They came with an air of anticipation of victory; they leave early, well satisfied that their team has acquitted themselves admirably against a pitiful double blue outfit. I cannot, however understand them leaving early; don’t they want to savour the delight of the ‘kill’?

Coach Hinkley, despite his team’s mid-season demise, has always maintained 20/20 vision and belief in his charges. They in turn delivered a 20.20 to 5.7 victory,  with restored focus.

 

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