Round 23 – Port Adelaide v Essendon: Progress, improvement or something else?

Port Adelaide v Essendon

7:40PM, Friday August 24

Adelaide Oval



In Round 8 the Bombers played Carlton and were beaten by 13 points by what was then the worst team in the competition who, if anything, played worse after that. Their high point in 2018, our low. After 8 Rounds we’re 2-6 and Carlton are 1-7. If they’re the worst team in it, where are we?


Since then we’ve gone 9-4 and spent weeks and weeks in the netherworld of 11th. But still the only teams that have beaten us in that period are Richmond, Collingwood and Hawthorn and we’ve beaten (handily) GWS, Sydney, West Coast and Geelong. So beaten by the best and we were better than the rest.


And here we are on the last Friday of the season in Adelaide set to take on Port whose year echoes ours. Some good wins and a lot of poor games. In prospect they can make finals, the proverbial mathematical possibility but not even Pythagoras could conjure the formula that could award them a realistic chance at that.


What’s at stake then? 4 points for one, a look into the 2019 crystal ball for another or not much at all if I’m riding on the reality bus.


But, what the hell, it’s a game, last chance to watch my team for the year, it’s Friday night (the best timeslot in any week), the red beckons, the pizza has been picked up. Let’s go.


We start full of run, lots of tackles, clearances, contested possies. We crack in at every contest. We kick 4 early, they get one after a good ten minutes and then we finish up by nearly 6 goals at ¼ time. All my misgivings pre-game have been swept away. My team is playing with purpose and look motivated to finish off the season the right way. What’s evident is what might happen in the future. Apart from Leuenberger (probably having a swansong final game at our club) and Goddard, none of our best players are over 26. Laverde, Langford and Francis, the first two in their 4th seasons and Francis in his 3rd, have all shown out. Impatient “fans” have bagged them mercilessly on the social cesspool and yet careful development has brought them to where we want them right now.


Port, perhaps mindful of their home game duties to their own band of fanatics, rally in the second and creep to within a goal and a bit close to time on. We kick back in red time and hold a 25 point lead at the main break.


Not to rush to the finish, but after Leuenberger goes down early in the second half, we’re gone in the ruck but still manage to hold the fort until the end. Francis underlines his rapid improvement by taking MOTY in the third, the young ‘uns mentioned earlier plus Parish keep playing well as do Heppell, Brown, Merrett and Zaharakis. The ever laconic Westhoff is really good for Port as is Polec but the rest aren’t much chop really.


It’s a 4 goal win to the Bombers that would likely have doubled if Leuey had stayed on the ground.


Essendon finish on 12-10 and so do Port with the Power a notch above us with a better %. But it’s clear which team has more ahead of them for next season.


After Round 8 our coaches spent the rest of the year talking about developing our squad. They’re well on the way.


Go Dons.



PORT ADELAIDE     1.1   5.6    9.7    13.11 (89)
ESSENDON                 6.4   9.7   15.8   17.9 (111)

Port Adelaide: Westhoff 5, Ebert 2, Farrell, Gray, Polec, Frampton, Ryder, Boak
Essendon: Laverde 3, Brown 3, Langford 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Heppell 2, Zaharakis 2, Baguley, Myers

Port Adelaide: Polec, Westhoff, Wingard, Boak
Essendon: Smith, Merrett, Goddard, Francis, Heppell, Parish, Brown, Zaharakis

Crowd: 39,168




  1. Ian Hauser says

    Given that this game was played in Adelaide where the din of Power supporters can be quite intimidating, this was a very good win. I’m with you, Trevor. This year was about regaining a genuine ability to compete with the better half on the ladder and the second half of the season achieved that – and possibly a bit more. Thankfully, the fan seems to have blown away most of the (deserved) excrement of recent seasons. Another year or two and we’ll be competing with the best for a top four role. Go Bombers!

  2. Trevor Blainey says

    Ian, I think maybe not playing finals this season might help in due course. If the rumours have any credence we might need a high pick to land one more big fish. There are players in the VFL sitting right behind Laverde, Langford and Francis in their development – Ridley, Mutch, Redman – and we’ll get Gleeson back who I really rate. And there’s Daniher who really could be anything. When he’s fit we’ll set sail for the top.

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