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Talking points: Port Adelaide v Gold Coast Suns

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: Paddy Ryder of the Power breaks away from Keegan Brooksby of the Suns during the 2017 AFL round 23 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval on August 26, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by AFL Media)
Paddy for All Australian?

1. Hot Power keep top four hopes alive
The Buddy Franklin show at the SCG earlier in the day meant Port was set a task in order to finish ahead of the Swans and keep their top-four chances alive. The Power entered this clash needing to win by about 12 goals and that didn't appear likely after a lacklustre opening term. The hosts led by just two points at the first change but then their prime movers stepped into gear and turned the match into a bloodbath. Paddy Ryder was absolutely dominant against the undermanned Suns rucks, Charlie Dixon was too big and Port's midfield was powerful and relentless. Sam Gray had a six-goal night to remember and Port will now earn a double chance should Richmond falter against St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday. Regardless, Ken Hinkley will go into September well satisfied on the back of three strong wins and with a very healthy list. Port finished 14-8 and with the competition's second-best percentage, a huge improvement on last season's 10-12, 10th-placed effort.

 

Full match coverage and stats

2. Suns' scoreless stretch and record low
As good as Port Adelaide was in the win, there was no hiding how deplorable Gold Coast was for the final three quarters of the match. Not only did the Suns go scoreless in the second and third quarters (the first team to do so since Richmond against St Kilda in 2009), but they also registered the lowest score in club history. The previous low-point was the 34 points the Suns scored against the Bulldogs in Darwin in round eight, 2012. That was when the Suns were still full of inexperienced youngsters learning the game, and even then they only lost the match by 38 points.

 

3. Nightmare ends, now for the fallout
Rodney Eade was the first casualty of another disappointing Gold Coast season when he was sacked three weeks ago. In coming weeks expect more changes at the Suns after they ended a dismal season with a 115-point loss to the Power and finished 17th. Most of the attention will turn to whether Gary Ablett has played his last match as a Sun. Gold Coast has defiantly stated its intention of retaining its Brownlow medallist but punters would favour him heading back to the Cattery. Regardless, the Suns must get Eade's replacement right and quickly reshape their list. Some of the key pillars of a good side are in place but whoever takes over the helm faces an enormous job. 

4. The other shade of Gray
Say 'Gray' and 'Port Adelaide' in the same sentence and most people think Robbie. That Gray might have played himself into his third All Australian guernsey after a dynamic season as a forward-midfielder. But Sam Gray has been the feelgood story at Port this season. The diminutive forward kicked six goals in a spectacular effort against the Suns to cap a breakout 2017. Gray was the definition of a fringe player at the start of the season, having played 34 games in his first three seasons. However, he has played every game this year, averaging almost 18 disposals and more than a goal a game. Those are not fringe numbers and he is now an important cog in the Power wheel. Gray grew up in the shadows of Alberton Oval and spent years running around with the Port Adelaide Magpies before earning a rookie spot, after finishing runner-up in the 2013 Magarey Medal. The Power fan favourite may play an important role come September. 

5. Paddy for All Australian?
Competition for the ruckman's spot in the 2017 Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team is as open as we've seen but Paddy Ryder must be on the first couple of lines of betting. You could argue this was a soft kill with the Suns' No.1 ruckman Jarrod Witts out injured. But you can only beat who the opposition puts up and Ryder was again dynamic and a key to the Power's staggering midfield ascendancy in this clash. He finished with bigger disposal numbers than he's been averaging this year and goes into September in awesome touch. Port fans will be disappointed if his name doesn't get read out on All Australian night.

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The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs