The Footy Almanac 2007 Week 1 Finals – Port Adelaide v West Coast: The rules of arm-wrestles

The first printed edition of The Footy Almanac came out in 2007, before we had a website. In the absence of a real 2020 season, we will be publishing the 2007 pieces for the first time ever on www.footyalmanac.com.au. Follow the season!

 

 

Port Adelaide versus West Coast

7.50pm, Friday, September 7

AAMI Stadium, Adelaide

JOHN KINGSMILL

 

THE B-SIDE OF THE PORT BANNER READ: “The revolution continues in 2008.” That was odd considering how much was still in front of the club for this year. It was the Port marketing people, of course, with a message for the fans in the outer to renew their season tickets next year. The West Coast B-side also had a message for the outer: “We will never stop until we drop.” By misappropriating Port’s anthem, they were giving the locals the bird.

 

Port were almost at full strength, only missing the injured Darryl Wakelin, once the backbone of Port’s defence. Toby Thurstans and Troy Chaplin now share that task with Alipate Carlile (David Rodan’s young cousin, the second Fijian in this team and the league). The Eagles were missing Daniel Kerr, Chad Fletcher and Ashley Hansen, and were playing Chris Judd on one leg.

 

From the bounce, Beau Waters took Chad Cornes and Kane Cornes took Ben Cousins. With two knights blocked, the first half became a battle of the pawns.

 

Finals football is more intense. The seats cost $60 for starters, which means the spectators bring more to the game. The stakes are higher for the players – the winner has a week off and a home Preliminary Final, the golden ticket to a Grand Final. Umpires put their whistle away for longer periods in the finals. Too scared to make a mistake in these big games, they often prefer to make no decision at all.

 

The first half had the sustained attack from both sides you’d normally associate with a shootout. However, quality defence matched the quick forward play, with hard tackling and reckless body positioning by all players. It was as exciting as a shootout except that under benign conditions, goals were at a premium. This was, instead, a quality arm wrestle.

 

Peter Burgoyne and Troy Chaplin provided most of Port’s early drive with 31 disposals between them. Burgoyne has dominated his half-back flank this year, reading the play deep in defence as if he was a forward, and enjoying his runs along the boundary or through the centre. Chaplin, too, has come of age. He followed David Wirrpanda forward in an Eagles’ flood, found himself unmarked, and kicked Port’s first goal in the third minute of the game.

 

Midfielders Tyson Stenglein, Andrew Embley and Matt Priddis worked hardest for the Eagles. Quinten Lynch had an early edge over Thurstans for a couple of goals and a couple of misses.

 

The first half felt more like a long first quarter than an hour of football. There was so much activity and so little to show for it on the scoreboard. At half-time, a big fat bloke behind me, with a red face and a need to talk to his doctor, said: “There’s a golden rule in an arm wrestle. As soon as one side breaks through, that team will kick three in five minutes.”

 

But who was going to break first? Port looked the better team. They had more possession and their attacks had more structure, but they coughed the footy up too easily. Their forward thrusts often ended in turnovers, too many final passes falling short of the target. West Coast looked as if they had expended a mighty lot of energy in keeping up with Port. With only nine scoring shots each, Port looked as if they had more left in their tank.

 

There is another golden rule in an arm wrestle. Late in the game, when every single player looks exhausted, the team with a really big ruckman who can kick straight will mark the ball and kick a goal and possibly win the game. In the Grand Final, Geelong will have Brad Ottens. In this game, West Coast had Dean Cox but Port only had Brendon Lade. This second half was testing, on many fronts, for Port’s young side.

 

In the third minute of the third quarter Mark LeCras snapped an easy goal. In the next two minutes Judd, suffering from groin and, now, ankle problems and camped in the goal square, dribbled two 10-metre goals along the ground and nearly doubled the Eagles’ score. The fat man was right.

 

The Eagles kicked four for the quarter to be 24 points up at one stage, but Port came back strongly through the Burgoyne boys and some cameo bodywork from Warren Tredrea, including a goal he had to kick twice from a sharp angle. The first time the umpire hadn’t called time-on.

 

Ben Cousins snapped his hamstring at the 29th minute. This sounded the Eagles’ death knell. Ben was dragged off the oval like a rag doll. In a career-determining year, that was a career-determining injury. If he recovers, that muscle will always be suspect.

 

In the dying seconds, the erratic Daniel Motlop marked brilliantly and kicked truly after the siren to have Port seven points behind at the last break. Game on, in an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

 

Once again, Mark Williams brought his team to the western side of the ground for the last break. He did this last week against Freo when he was four points up and needed extra motivation from the faithful mob in the outer to win that game. At this very moment, his wife Pauline left Football Park and went to hospital. She was pregnant with their fifth child and went into labour as her husband was preparing to deliver a stirring address. Mark was not informed about this development until the end of the game.

 

At the 14th minute of the last quarter, Dean Cox took a mark as the last man standing in a tired pack and slotted it. Golden Rule No. 2 was delivered but it didn’t matter. Port had the run. Shaun Burgoyne lifted and kicked a goal; Kane Cornes, liberated from his tagging role on Cousins, burned the turf and kicked a goal; the rookie Westhoff, after earlier hitting the ground with a resounding thump which knocked the stuffing out of him for most of the night, took a lovely running one-handed mark against the flight of the ball; Brett Ebert continued his strong leads; Chad Cornes finally overcame Beau Waters; Dom Cassisi hit his straps.

 

At the 24th minute, West Coast were dead on their feet. Port had it all but they were still only eight points up. With five minutes left, they nearly lost the plot. After attacking all night, Port played tempo footy at the wrong end of the ground at the wrong time of the match. They kicked backwards to the left and right and then, predictably, stuffed it up with a turnover. From a mark and a 50-metre penalty with a Chad Cornes brain-fade, Rosa kicked a goal. Three points up.

 

Two minutes later, Port went tempo again and almost coughed it up. The ball went out of bounds. With 40 seconds to go, Port kicked backwards again, for the third time. This time it didn’t matter. The siren put Port on the golden road to a Grand Final with one week off and a home Preliminary.

 

Mark Williams has had a big year. His mother died mid-season; his fifth child, a daughter, was born later this night. And he has taken his team from 12th in 2006 to the edge of the gate.

 

Mother and child are well. The coach, and the fans, are in a state of heightened excitement.

 

 

Port Adelaide  1.3  2.7  6.9  9.14 (68)

West Coast  2.3  3.6  7.10  9.11 (65)

 

GOALS

Port Adelaide: P. Burgoyne, S. Burgoyne, Chaplin, K. Cornes, Ebert, Motlop, Salopek, Tredrea, Westhoff.

West Coast: Judd, Lynch 2, Cox, Hurn, LeCras, Rosa, Seaby.

 

BEST

Port Adelaide: P. Burgoyne, Chaplin, S. Burgoyne, Motlop, K. Cornes, Salopek, C. Cornes, Lade.

West Coast: Waters, Stenglein, Hunter, Rosa, Priddis, Lynch, Cox, Judd.

 

UMPIRES

Vozzo, Rosebury, Ryan.

 

OUR VOTES

Burgoyne (PA) 3, Chaplin (PA) 2, Waters (WC) 1.

 

CROWD

37,750

 

 

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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