The Footy Almanac 2007 Round 19 – Port Adelaide v Carlton: Uneasy plodding around the parabola

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Port Adelaide versus Carlton

2.40pm, Saturday, August 11

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide



THERE’S NOTHING LIKE BEING BEATEN BY ADELAIDE to fire up this Port group. It happened in Round 3. After being shamed by 24 points by Adelaide, Port then knocked off Collingwood by three goals at the MCG.


In this round, Port had to respond quickly not only to remain in contention for the top four but, more dramatically, to stay in the eight. They could not afford to lose two in a row and then face Hawthorn, Brisbane and Fremantle in their run home. Lose against Carlton and Port and we could be winless for the rest of the year and end up ninth or tenth.


Carlton came to town with burning ears. Accused of tanking after being competitive for three quarters in recent weeks, Brett Ratten and many of the players had value to add to their 2008 contracts. Selection committees can fiddle with the line-up to save a bit for later, but few players know how to give half an effort on the ground. No honourable coach ever coaches to lose.


It was a cool and rainless day at Football Park. After a slow start to the game, when the defence ruled for both sides, Port split the quarter open with a steady stream of goals in the 11th, 13th, 19th and 21st minutes. Two came from dubious free kicks, and the others from the clever work of Westhoff and Ebert.


Carlton started the quarter with confidence but after 10 minutes their game became error-ridden. The ball was dry; the ground was firm; the wind was slight. There was no excuse for 20-metre passes to go astray. Consistently. If Carlton were tankers, they were doing it early on this day.


The Blues started the second quarter with a 20-second goal from the first bounce through the brilliant running of Kade Simpson. A few minutes later, Thurstans, unwilling to move forward, lost the plot and Fevola took his first goal.


As the quarter wore on, once again Carlton’s concentration waned. This time there was a flurry of Port goals at the 8th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 18th and 24th minutes. Simpson and Fev managed their second goals apiece in the middle of that rout, but all evidence pointed at a slaughter about to happen.


Modern football is a strange beast. On television it’s a series of contests but you have to be at the ground, and preferably in the middle of the oval about one deck up to see how the coaches construct the playing zone. Easy goals happen from kick-outs and the centre bounce before the teams have time to flood. Most of the time, though, as one team gains possession, the playing zone shrinks to an oval within the oval. Most football by most teams these days is about working the ball along the edge of this parabola, looking for ways to inch forward. It’s rare to see a team consistently move into the dead heart of the forward shape. That approach, kicking to a contest, is riddled with danger. If you lose the first contest, the opposition will run through skinny ranks to their own goal.


In defence and counter-defence, there’s now a new axiom. The team that dares to attack the heart of the zone dares to win. In the third quarter, Carlton stopped creeping around the edges of the beast and attacked the body. And, in the blink of an eye, created eight beautiful goals to be leading at the long break.


Later, Williams was dirty about his players. He thought they played for themselves in that quarter rather than maintaining the zone structure. But his analysis undervalued the work of Simpson, Scotland, Fisher, Carrazzo, Waite and, in fact, the sheer dare of this entire Carlton team. They dared and, with Brendan Fevola at the end of their work, they nearly won.


Port carried the coach’s anger into the last quarter. They closed down the zone and ran hard through Boak, Peter Burgoyne, Cassisi, Wilson and Pearce. Justin Westhoff finished with four goals. He is a genuine AFL discovery, a mere slip of a lad, and looks as if he should be playing women’s netball rather than this bruising game. He uses his skinny body brilliantly. He makes decisions quickly. He is a very intelligent player. He only needs to put on some wiry muscle and?he could be anything. Watch out for him in the finals, especially if Tredrea is there as a decoy.


Brett Ebert had two kicks in that last quarter, both from marks, after leading deep into the pocket. On both occasions, he played on quickly, centring the ball to an unmarked player in front of goals. That, you can argue, won the match.



Port Adelaide  4.3 10.7 11.11 17.14 (116)

Carlton  0.3 4.6 12.8 14.9 (74)



Port Adelaide: Westhoff 4, Boak, S. Burgoyne, K. Cornes, Motlop 2, Cassisi, Ebert, Lade, Thomson, Wilson.

Carlton: Fevola 4, Fisher 3, Simpson 2, Betts, Carrazzo, O’hAilpin, Saddington, Waite.



Port Adelaide: P. Burgoyne, Boak, Cassisi, Westhoff, Ebert,?K. Cornes, Lade.

Carlton: Simpson, Scotland, Blackwell, Fevola, Fisher, Bannister.



Pettigrew (Port Adelaide) 50 games.



Farmer, Margetts, Chamberlain.



Burgoyne (PA) 3, Simpson (Carl.) 2, Boak (PA) 1.



Wilson* (PA) 3, Lade (PA) 2, Pettigrew (PA) 1.






For more Round by Round reports of the 2007 season click HERE


Printed copies of The Footy Almanac 2007 can be purchased here.


2007 Footy Almanac

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