Round 1 – Port Adelaide v Fremantle: Welcome back football, my old friend.

Port Adelaide v Fremantle

March 24th, 2018

Adelaide Oval, Adelaide


Finally, after an underwhelming cricket season with its lacklustre Ashes battle and the sideshow that is the Big Bash, football returned this weekend to much fanfare and expectation. And Port Adelaide’s 2018 got under way yesterday afternoon with a classy, defence-driven display that should have opposition clubs concerned.


Port spent the summer loading up on other clubs’ discards. Jack Watts came in from Melbourne with his potential well known, but his output questioned. Likewise Steven Motlop from Geelong, with critics suggesting for every great game he plays five poor ones follow. Port’s first two goals yesterday were created and scored by Watts and Motlop; a brilliant way to get Port’s cynical fans onboard early and a nice way to get Port’s season off and running.


Another key recruit Port picked up from Brisbane was Tom Rockliff. His limited preseason meant his impact yesterday was slightly muted, but his value wasn’t. He adds experience and grunt, but more importantly gives Port Adelaide another midfield option. Robbie Gray and Jaspar Pittard were missing from yesterday’s game, a scary thought considering the ease of the win and the significant 50-point margin. Both are in Port’s best 22.


But for all the talk on the new recruits and just what they may bring, it was two youngsters already entrenched at Alberton who stepped up and showed that they are ready to make an impact at senior level. Riley Bonner showed class that made a mockery of his young age giving Port enormous rebound and run from the backline, while up forward Todd Marshall continued his positive development by kicking four goals and providing a perfect foil to Watts and Charlie Dixon.


Port were cleaner than Fremantle, had a multitude of forward and midfield options, and despite losing Paddy Ryder for the second half still dominated across the ground. Fremantle’s record against Port at Adelaide is dismal and before yesterday’s game the question marks that surrounded Port’s recruits was matched by the questions asked at the Dockers, and of coach Ross Lyon, who continues to live off a reputation that far outweighs his actual achievements in the game. The Dockers tried hard but were miles off the pace. Their season looks set to be another very long one.


In defence Port worked terrifically together; supporting one another, hassling the Fremantle players into mistakes and miskicks and generally moving the ball out of the backline with skill and speed. Port were efficient and clean and gave the 38,000 fans at Adelaide Oval a reminder, like they did for parts of season 2017, that Port Adelaide have the playing list and tricks in the kitbag to challenge for a premiership in 2018.


On Saturday afternoon in Adelaide it was nice to have football back. The familiar nerves pre-game. The expectation. The first proper look at the much-talked about recruits. The sunshine and the smell of the grass, and a roaring crowd. Port couldn’t have done much more yesterday than what they did. A 50-point win is resounding against any opposition. The cobwebs were blown away ready for a Harbourside battle against Sydney next week. Summer premiership predictions are a hazardous exercise. But maybe Port’s youth, coupled with their recruiting spree could net Port a premiership in 2018. Port’s 2018 list isn’t just for the future; it’s for the now. And with only one round played of the new AFL season, it’s looking to be a season of riches for Port.



Port Adelaide 4.3  8.7  14.10  16.14 (110)
Fremantle       1.4  5.4   7.6   9.6 (60)



Port Adelaide: Marshall 4, Watts 3, Wingard, 2, Motlop 2, S.Gray, Ryder, Dixon, Rockliff, Boak

Fremantle: Langdon, Sandilands, Walters, McCarthy, Matera, Taberner, B.Hill, Fyfe, Wilson



Port Adelaide: Westhoff, Boak, Watts, Bonner, Wines, Marshall

Fremantle: Neale, Fyfe, Sandilands, A.Pearce


Crowd: 38,324



Twitter – @chrismwriter



  1. Well said Chris. I am travelling in Tasmania and no TV at present, back Thursday, so happy to read your comments. Saw a fair bit of Marshall in Magpies last year and I reckon he is going to take marks and do things that make your head spin, if he stays fit. Is Jasper really still in our best 22? Who would go out for him? Whither Hombsch? Still had not corrected his kicking last year in my view. Ryder loss very big, new recruits need to sustain performances and Freo may be a low measuring stick, but a win beats a loss any day.

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