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Maggies win battle for first spot

Matthew Agius  June 28, 2014 4:45 PM

Robbie Young (pictured earlier this year) booted four goals for the Magpies.

Robbie Young (pictured earlier this year) booted four goals for the Magpies.

COMPOSURE in defence during the dying stages of the match between Port Adelaide and Sturt at Envestra Park was crucial to the Magpies posting their 10th win of the season on Saturday afternoon.

With little wet-weather experience in 2014 aside from a brief stint against the Eagles two weeks ago, the Magpies enjoyed the return of some critical contested ball winners such as SANFL 50-gamer Tom Logan and pacy midfielder Aaron Young, as well as Henry Slattery fresh from a five-week rough conduct suspension.

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They provided much-needed experience against an unchanged Sturt lineup that went into its home game a narrow favourite after weeks of sustained form.

And things went to plan early for Port, with the first goal to Mason Shaw and the lion's share of the ball held by the Magpies early in the first quarter.

But the Double Blues seized the lead - despite Port's dominance of the stats - thanks to quick goals behind the Magpies' key defensive posts, and carried a two-point advantage into the first break.

It could have been more if not for a steady goal from Robbie Young after the quarter-time siren.

The lead changed hands throughout the afternoon, but a strong third quarter effort through steady rain gave the Magpies crucial momentum going into the final quarter.

While Things looked dire partway through the term though, with Sturt dominating the inside 50 count and maintaining a dangerous presence close to goal for most of the term.

It was thanks largely to a strong rebounding defensive effort from the Magpies backs, supported by most of the black and white engine room as Garry Hocking pushed extra numbers deep into Sturt's attacking zone, that Port withstood the home side's attack.

It allowed the visitors to swing forward with its trademark run and carry, clean hands, and pinpoint marks at crucial moments, that helped deliver crucial late goals to Jake Neade and Robbie Young.

Young kicked four goals for the afternoon in a career-best performance for Port Adelaide, while Aaron Young responded to his omission from the Power with a supreme 36 touches and nine clearances, supported by Steven Summerton and Ben Newton through the middle.

Hocking said the playing group's ability to balance extra numbers in defence with composure running forward was critical to winning against a side he believes will play a big part in September.

"Sturt have actually been good all along this year, and they showed today they're a good side," Hocking said.

"There was a bit of balance between how many we needed back to win the ball, and how many to have forward of the ball - I reckon we got it right in the fourth quarter,

"The other thing we did do [in the fourth quarter] was not kick it directly back to them, we tried to kick wider and use our run to try and get good field position from that.

"Westies gave us a wake up last week and I think we learned from that and put on a four-quarter performance this week, particularly under pressure late in the game."

Hocking also praised the effort of Robbie Young for his four-goal effort, including clutch goals late in the first and fourth quarters.

"We've got to be given a reason to contract a player and if he keeps playing like that it will be all worthwhile," Hocking said.

"He's worked really hard for a spot in the team, and it's great for him to have had good form all year and continue to show he can perform at this level."

The Magpies sit comfortably on top of the ladder with a 10-2 record ahead of the one-week bye for the split round. It's next game will be in Round 13 against North Adelaide at Alberton for Steven Summerton's 150th career game on Saturday July 12.

SCOREBOARD
PORT ADELAIDE      2.6      4.9      9.10      12.11 (83)
STURT                         3.2      4.7      7.13      8.5 (63)

portadelaidefc.com.au’s best
A. Young, Newton, Clurey, R. Young, Summerton, O’Shea

Goals
R. Young 4, Shaw 3, Neade 2, A. Young, Newton, Slattery