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What we learned: Round 4 vs Essendon

Loukas Founten  April 16, 2018 12:07 PM

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Robbie Gray of the Power in action during the 2018 AFL Round 04 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Port Adelaide Power at Etihad Stadium on April 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Robbie Gray of the Power in action during the 2018 AFL Round 04 match between the Essendon Bombers and the Port Adelaide Power at Etihad Stadium on April 15, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)

THE five talking points from our Round 4 clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Dougal Howard is extremely versatile. The 199-centimetre big man has starred in the early rounds in defence but took to the rucking duties with aplomb. In the absence of the injured Paddy Ryder, Howard spent much of the match in ruck and managed 21 hit-outs to go with 13 possessions and a clearance. While there was much talk about the Power not having a recognised ruckman, it actually won the centre clearances 16 to 13, and only lost the hit-outs 46 to 39.

Port Adelaide does not like facing Essendon at Etihad Stadium. While the result was better than the 70-point disappointment in 2017, the 22-point loss to the Bombers this time out was the Power’s fifth in its last six games against the Bombers there. The one win came in round 17, 2015 when Port got up by 13 points in a very high scoring encounter.

Sometimes a good old fashioned slamming by the coach pays dividends. After an embarrassing defeat to the Western Bulldogs last round, John Worsfold said it was the worst performance by his side in his time at the club. After the heavy criticism from Worsfold and external commentators, the key discussion point pre-match was how the Bombers would respond. We got our answer in the opening eight minutes when they rattled on the first three goals from as many inside 50s and led the possession count 40-14. The Bombers were sharp, fast, efficient and energetic and seemed to play the game on their terms.

The Power needs to address its slow first halves. In the past three weeks, the Power has lost the opening half by 14 points to Sydney, by 13 points to Brisbane and by 27 points to Essendon. The Power has kicked just 15 goals in the first half in the past three weeks and while it came home strongly to beat the Swans and Lions, it couldn’t do it again against the Bombers.

Port Adelaide could do with a second Robbie Gray. When he was on the ball, the Power started to win clearances and seemed to be turning the tide. The 30-year-old had a game-high 39 disposals, five inside 50s and five rebound 50s as well as 10 clearances. Port’s next best for clearances was Ollie Wines with seven, and nobody else had more than three. Unfortunately Gray’s smarts around goal were missed when he was up the ground.

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