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Port Adelaide wins first SANFL Showdown

Mitch Harvey kicks at goal. Picture: John Bradshaw
Mitch Harvey booted three goals against the Crows' SANFL side.
JUST as it did in 1997 in the first encounter between the two clubs in the AFL, Port Adelaide has won the inaugural SANFL 'Showdown' against the Crows.

And the result has put the Magpies at the top of the SANFL ladder after the Eagles defeated South Adelaide at Noarlunga earlier on Sunday. 

In what proved a statistically even game across most key areas, Port Adelaide was able to hold a strong effort from the Crows in the second and third quarters to take out a hard-fought 45-point victory at the Clare Oval.

But it was the visitors’ efficiency that set up its dominant opening quarter performance and, in turn, the win.
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Six opening term goal scorers and an accurate 7.1 gave the Magpies the breathing space they needed when the Crows surged repeatedly in the second and third quarters.

Kane Mitchell and Tom Logan were Port Adelaide’s primary destroyers early and provided the run and carry the Magpies needed to dominate the inside 50s.

Mitchell finished with 31 touches and six clearances and proved the composed head the Magpies often needed in a tight squeeze. 

Steven Summerton, Andrew Moore and Karl Amon joined the party midway through the game with some silky moves through the centre and on the outside of the ground to pound the Crows' defence time and again.

While the black and white lacked stoppage superiority, their ability to use the ball effectively ensured plenty of options were available.

Tom Clurey battled big Crows forward Taylor Walker all day and had 18 touches despite the AFL star's four goals.

At the other end, Port Adelaide's two tall redheads Ben Haren and Mitch Harvey booted three goals apiece.

Haren was particularly impressive with 13 touches and four tackles, while fellow contracted player Angus Bruggemann was equally solid with two goals and 16 disposals.

While the Crows mounted two significant challenges, Port Adelaide was always able to find a response when it needed one, with its defence holding up thanks in no small part to the smooth-moving Nathan Krakouer playing in his first League game since returning to the club over summer.

Combined with the club's defensive pace attack of Cameron O'Shea and Logan, as well as Irish debutant Daniel Flynn who showed his incredible burst speed from half back, the Magpies were able to curb the persistent Crows attacks.

But Garry Hocking will likely look to address the mid-game fade outs that have been common in the Magpies' last three wins, with West Adelaide and the Eagles each managing to mount strong surges through the middle of games as the Crows did on Sunday.

Consistency is important in the SANFL, and with Port Adelaide set to confront Sturt and South Adelaide - both form sides of the competition - in the coming fortnight, Hocking won't want to leave anything to chance."

But he left the game pleased with the overall performance of his team, particularly the way it started the game.

"Important games the next couple of weeks against Sturt and South and then Centrals as well," Hocking said post-game.

"We get to play everyone once before we see where we sit in the competition, so it's really important we get everyone there - our fans - and put on a really good contest.

"We ripped a couple of the AFL boys out yesterday and it gave us a real opportunity to test the rest of our list and give a few others an opportunity. 

"The game was a real test between two strong teams - they were choc-full of talent, I think we were too, so I'm sure the Clare community would have been happy with the game they got today, which is really good for the Redden family also.

"We were able to put in a real strong opening performance - 7.1 is a great start - and I think we avoided playing 'fancy' footy too."

Port Adelaide plays Sturt at Alberton on Sunday May 11.

PORT ADELAIDE          7.1      9.6      14.9     20.12 (132)
ADELAIDE CROWS      2.2      5.3      9.5      13.9 (87)'s best
Mitchell, Haren, Summerton, Moore, Krakouer, S. Gray, Neade

Haren, Harvey 3, S. Gray, J. Butcher, Bruggemann 2, Mitchell, Amon, O’Shea, Summerton, Logan, Renouf, Neade, Moore

5,312 at Clare Oval
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs