Round 3 – Port Adelaide v Brisbane: Like Old Times

Port Adelaide v Brisbane

1:15PM, Saturday 7th April, 2018

Adelaide Oval



Port Adelaide and the Brisbane Lions produced a match on Saturday that was a throw back to over a decade ago, when both clubs were flying, and their rivalry was at its peak. Between 2002 and 2004 there were no better clubs at AFL level than the Power and Lions. They played some classic encounters, perhaps none better than the final minor round game of 2002 when Roger James was the hero for Port, his goal sealing the minor premiership for Port Adelaide for the first time at AFL level.


A year later at the Gabba, Port came away with victory, again by less than a kick after a classic match that marked out Port’s premiership potential. Both sides were full of talent: Akermanis, Voss, Black, Lappin and Brown for the Lions, and Pickett, Wanganeen, Tredrea, the Burgoyne brothers and Chad Cornes for the Power. The year before Brisbane defeated Port at the Gabba in the preliminary final, and in September 2004, Brisbane and Port met in the Grand Final with Port looking for their first AFL flag and the Lions their fourth in a row. It was a beautiful sunny September day and the crowd were treated to one of the best grand finals for ten years. After a frantic, spiteful and hard-fought first half Port began to overwhelm the Lions, with Wanganeen showing off his true skills kicking four goals, and Byron Pickett gathering countless possessions to eventually win the Norm Smith Medal.


In the last quarter, Port made a statement of intent early and ran all over the Lions to complete a remarkable, emotional premiership. For those three years there were no bigger rivals in the AFL, no two teams who consistently produced classic matches.


Winding the clock forward to 2018 and again Port Adelaide and Brisbane produced a game of high drama and the tightest of finishes. If not for a Jared Polec mark on the Lions goal-line late in the game then it would have been a tremendous Brisbane win, against the odds and their respective ladder positions – deep in enemy territory. Instead Polec, doing his best goalkeeping impersonation provided the steadying mark that keeps Port Adelaide on top of the AFL ladder after three rounds.


Port were not great, not by any stretch. And a Brisbane win would not have been undeserved. They came to Adelaide full of intent and enthusiasm and if not for a Port Adelaide rear-guard action in the third quarter they may have snatched the points and confirmed their real progress in 2018. But Port, riding their luck and with genuine new stars like Sam Gray, Polec and Ollie Wines stepping up when needed countered Brisbane’s pluck with settling goals and wiser heads when it mattered most. But there was nothing too convincing about Port’s win.


Last week against Sydney, Port were sensational, but here they looked tired and out of sorts, bereft of ideas and energy and struggled to really get into the game. The weather was hot, but you train for that, and it was hot for Brisbane as well. It was a nod to previous years when Port tended to drop away at different times if their intensity was lacking, especially against sides they are clearly more talented than. But often that is a secondary issue – there are few easy games these days at AFL level and Port played Russian roulette on Saturday and survived.


Brisbane will continue to give many teams a scare this season, while Port sit atop the AFL ladder unbeaten but with a challenging few weeks ahead where they meet Essendon in Melbourne, Geelong in Adelaide and a showdown against arch enemy Adelaide. The next few weeks will say a lot about just how far Port can go this season.


And it was nice to re-live some of those great Port Adelaide v Brisbane battles that dominated the football landscape in the early 2000s. The names have changed, and many could argue Port let alone Brisbane aren’t a patch on those great sides of the past, but there are new heroes to love, new skills to admire – and regardless of those halcyon days both sides are heading in a very solid direction circa 2018. For as we all know past history is just a marker in our lives, but looking forward to the next challenge is always more rewarding.




Twitter – @chrismwriter


  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Nice piece Chris.
    Those Port v Brisbane battles can’t be that long ago?! Time moves on.
    The Power look super impressive so far.

  2. Thanks Luke.
    Yeah over ten years ago. Sure had some battles back then.
    So far they do, although Essendon will be a challenge regardless. Always a good game.

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