Round 7 – West Coast v Port Adelaide: Port will learn that only one game can bring salvation

West Coast v Port Adelaide

2:35PM, Saturday May 5

Perth Stadium



Last year Port Adelaide were a shattered bunch as they bowed out of the finals race against West Coast in Adelaide, with an after-the-siren goal that crushed Port hearts and brought to an end a promising season. On Saturday they met the same opponents at the new, fancy Optus Stadium in Burswood – a suburb known for its casino as much as anything. Shiny and new – unlike Port’s performance. Outplayed and more troubling was the lack of four-quarter effort. After a bright start to the season, Port, for the time being at least, have become also-rans.


That 2017 final should burn deep at Alberton. It was a crushing way to lose, made all the more difficult as Port were actually leading on the final siren, but a contentious umpiring decision with seconds to go gifted West Coast a shot at goal and victory was theirs.


I was at the 2007 Grand Final against Geelong that saw Port humiliated on the big stage. Huge television audience, packed stands and a shocking, hollow loss. That Geelong were by far the best side all year in 2007 is hardly relevant, but that’s what they were. It’s hard to imagine anyone getting close to Geelong that day, such was their dominance. They played with history on their side. Port beating Geelong in 2013 in Adelaide didn’t go any way towards eradicating that sordid memory, nor should it have. Only beating Geelong in a grand final will redress the balance.


Same goes for West Coast. While less was hanging on the result in that 2017 final (not much less), beating WC on Saturday wouldn’t have erased that bad memory. Beating them in a final will. And it wont matter if it’s by a single point or 100.


Moments to write history come along very infrequently. They need to be grabbed with both hands. Port’s trip to the new stadium on Saturday was a reminder of the pain WC caused Port last year (and the umpiring department for that matter) and beating them to get a faltering season back on track was vital, but it wouldn’t have erased the pain.


Geelong have had the wood over Port since that 2007 grand final. They’re a side Port struggle with. If the Power hadn’t erred on the side of caution in the semi-final at the MCG in 2013 they would have beaten them and knocked them out of the finals race that year. It would have been a special moment, and shown real maturity, but it alone wouldn’t erase the ’07 pain.


Beating Geelong in a grand final will be the only time salvation can come for Port. Careers of players, but also clubs can turn on the result of just one match. Port’s fortunes nose-dived after the 2007 season – tarps, sponsorship issues, coaching and player unrest and lack of cash-flow contributed to some dark times at Alberton. The arrival of Ken Hinkley, David Koch and Keith Thomas, along with the rise of Travis Boak, Chad Wingard and Ollie Wines and a playing style so brazen, quick and exciting turned Port Adelaide around, but a similar level of jaundice, albeit for different reasons, has crept in again. On Saturday Port played a side that killed their premiership chances in 2017 – yet a lacklustre and shoddy attempt at re-settling of old scores was what Port dished up.


Port’s in finals no-mans-land currently with a Showdown coming up in five days. That’s a worry. The Crows have won the last handful, and rarely looked like getting beaten in any of them. Port need to once again re-shuffle the deck and come up with a winning playing group who value Port’s past achievements, honour the clubs’ successful history and do justice to those who have worn the guernsey since 1870 by coming out and showing that regardless of past issues, mental blocks and recent failures they have the mental fortitude to triumph in the most challenging of circumstances.


Because that’s what they will need to do against Geelong in a grand final to cast off the demons of 07, or against West Coast later this year if they are truly on a path to redemption and salvation. One game does have a big impact in this competition. Port know that better than anyone.


In 2007 the team were crushed, and the result crushed the club. In 2017 West Coast brought back to the fore all those insecurities from a decade ago. On the weekend Port had a chance to at least get something back on the Eagles in enemy territory and failed. To truly square the ledger, in a final in September later this year Port wont just have to find a more concerted effort; they will have to play better than they will have done all year to get to the finals in the first place. Right now, both seem far, far away.


Twitter – @chrismwriter


WEST COAST                4.1   9.3   13.4   16.6 (102)
PORT ADELAIDE            2.1   3.2   8.2   9.6 (60)


West Coast: Kennedy 4, Darling 3, Rioli 2, Petruccelle 2, Hutchings, Waterman, Redden, Cripps, LeCras
Port Adelaide: S Gray 2, Johnson 2, Bonner, Watts, Dixon, Polec, Motlop


West Coast: Redden, Darling, Rioli, Hutchings, Kennedy, Gaff, Lycett
Port Adelaide: Boak, Houston, R Gray, Byrne-Jones, Wines


Crowd: 50,516




  1. Recruiting Watts and Motlop seem strange decisions for a club you say is lacking “mental fortitude” (I would add physical after Saturday). Whatever game style Ken Hinkley is trying to implement, I don’t think Foster Williams would approve.

  2. Rulebook says

    A area in which I have lost a lot of interest is re the complete and utter stupidity that was a contentious decision no it was a pathetic soft putrid high tackle by Polec.Agree re yes the defeating of the Cats in a gf and WC in a final as for the 1870 trollop ohh please

  3. chrism76 says

    Rulebook – Settle down. He ducked and won a free kick when he shouldn’t have. Most people agree.

  4. chrism76 says

    Peter_B – Agree Fos wouldn’t be happy. Style seems far removed from what actually wins games.

  5. Rulebook says

    Chris any one being honest saw that as a blatant free kick by Polec gladly so did some Port people internally as I said lost a lot of interest for the lack of common sense not calling it a head high tackle which it had been ruled internally as a correct decision at the end of 2017 then suddenly at the start of 2018 a fair tackle ( I thought it was just some sarcasm to keep Port happy after Gray being suspended pre season still flabbergasted that it apparently wasn’t )

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