Round 1 – Fremantle v Port Adelaide: Down by the sea, a tale of two wharfie clubs

Fremantle v Port Adelaide

April 5th, 2015

Domain Stadium, Perth

 

Maybe it’s something about the locations of each club; dockside, an area where hard work and hard living goes hand in hand. Fremantle and Port Adelaide formed a bond upon Fremantle’s entry into the AFL in 1995 when they played the first Docklands Cup, with the winner walking away with a trophy shaped like an anchor. Clive Waterhouse, who would join Fremantle in 1996 played a half for each team. Since, the two clubs have battled hard for respect and supremacy in the AFL.

 

Move forward to 2015 and the clubs’ opened their seasons with another battle royale, not an inch given or expected. Port, without late withdrawal Lobbe had Butcher in and up forward. But this was not a night for Port’s tall forwards. At the other end the evergreen Matthew Pavlich would prove to be more a match-winner, presenting in hot and moist conditions that sapped energy and made quick decision-making difficult.

 

Port started well, and their approach was of a team that had played a preliminary final last year and missing their first grand final since 2007 burned hard. But with Lobbe out, a player far superior to Butcher once the ball hits the ground, Port’s forward thrusts required small forwards to shine. Neade popped up in front of goal and proceeded to pop the ball out of bounds from 30 metres out. Wingard, ever the steady hand in front of goal kicked truly, and quarter one resembled last years’ semi-final at the same ground, which Port won.

 

If the opening games of season 2015 had been high in intensity, this one moved that intensity up several notches. Port for the first three quarters on top, although their biggest margin of 14 points would come early in the game. After half time the arm wrestle became a sweaty grip to the death.

 

Although Port’s fitness and ability to run out games had become the main talking point last season, they were clearly tiring. Fearless leader Travis Boak finally broke into the game after being worn so tight early on. Brett Ebert, Port’s best over four quarters was a sensational source of inspiration. His drive and resilience a motivation to his fellow chums in the black, white and teal. Robbie Gray had his moments, the defence was solid and Jared Polac wiry and skilful. Hamish Hartlett, a fair barometer for Port was industrious and hardworking.

 

But it was Fremantle that found something more in the last quarter. While their winning margin of seven points was never decisive, their ability to be slightly more inventive in front of goal was. They took the lead back off Port, and increased it. The umpiring was solid, fair, and equally baffling at times for both teams. It played no factor in the result.

 

For now, the anchor-shaped trophy will once again head west, but for how long will it stay there? Last season Fremantle won the battle, Port the war. Another battle has gone Freo’s way, but the ultimate battle will no doubt come in September, when these two clubs – built on the traditions of the great stevedores of olde times – will shape up again.

 

CHRIS MICHAELS

@cargoartmag

Comments

  1. Nice wrap Chris. Both clubs missed a trick by never really setting up a ‘Battle of the Port clubs” style trophy. Great game. Good early signs for both teams.

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