PORT ADELAIDE kept its unbeaten start to 2020 alive with a 48-point win over West Coast on Saturday, keeping the club at the top of the AFL ladder.
In doing so, Port kept its perfect record at Metricon Stadium / Carrara alive. It now has nine wins from nine games at the venue.
Here are some key things we learned from the game.
1. Team defence is good defence.
Port Adelaide can boast both the best attack and the most miserly defence in the AFL. Port has conceded a total of 146 points in its four games so far this season at an average of 36.5 points per game.
West Coast scored 41 points against Port – the highest it has conceded this season. Port also conceded 41 points against Fremantle a week earlier to go with 29 points in Round 1 against the Gold Coast and 35 in Round 2 against Adelaide. The AFL’s next tightest defence is Collingwood’s which has conceded 173 points at an average of 43.25.
Even Essendon and Melbourne, who have each played on less game, have conceded more points!
2. The attack ain’t bad either.
In a season where scores have been down, maybe in part due to shorter quarters, the dour style some teams are playing and a bit of rust from a players’ perspective, Port Adelaide has bucked the trend and has increased its average score.
Granted it has only been four games but Port is averaging 86 points per game, up from 82 points per game last season and 81 in 2018.
The combination of tight defence and high-scoring attack has Port Adelaide in unchartered territory in terms of percentage. Stats guru @sirswampthing has pointed out Port’s 236.3% is the highest in the AFL era by any club after Round 4 and the fifth highest in VFL/AFL history.
3. Charlie Dixon is a handy forward.
Fit and firing, Charlie Dixon is a monster and he is terrifying opposition backlines. He leads the Coleman Medal race with eleven goals from three games including his six against the Eagles. It’s the third time Dixon has booted six or more goals at Metricon Stadium, and the former Gold Coast Sun is the only player in VFL/AFL history to achieve that feat. His 6.2 is one goal off his career-best 7.2 playing with the Suns against North Melbourne in 2015.
Coach Ken Hinkley said it was Dixon’s best game since the 2017 Elimination Final – also against West Coast – when he was equally as influential but didn’t kick straight, finishing with 3.6 in a losing side. His six-goal effort on Saturday was just the sixth time a Port player had booted a half a dozen in a game in the last ten years. The others are Jay Schulz, Angus Monfries, John Butcher, Robbie Gray and Sam Gray.
Dixon also became the first AFL player in 2020 to have 12 score involvements in a single match.
4. Ruck battle split.
All eyes were on the battle between former teammates Scott Lycett and Nic Naitanui in the ruck on Saturday and to half time it seemed like Lycett had taken the points.
He had 10 disposals, 12 hit-outs, four tackles and five clearances to half time to be the highest ranked player on the ground, but Naitanui finished the stronger with a dominant second half.
The big Eagle finished with 30 hit-outs – to Lycett’s 15 – along with nine disposals. Lycett didn’t add to his disposal tally but both men finished with six clearances. Considering Port’s midfield dominance and dominance on the scoreboard, Lycett would have gone home happy anyway.
5. Port can respond.
For the second time in two weeks Port Adelaide was challenged with a side getting a run of goals. Last week against Fremantle, Port withstood first quarter pressure before taking the game away in the second quarter. This week it was a fast second-half start by the Eagles.
West Coast had the first three goals of the third term with two to Josh Kennedy and one to Liam Ryan to cut a half time lead of 27-points down to just eleven. But Port showed composure, maturity and an ability to respond to any situation with the next four goals and seven of the last eight.
6. An extra learning about Brad Ebert’s 250th
Brad Ebert became the second Port Adelaide player to play his 250th game against the team where he made his AFL debut when he came up against West Coast on Saturday. Ebert played 76 games in the West before crossing home to Adelaide and to the club where his family is royalty at the end of 2011.
The other Port Adelaide player to play his 250th against his former side was premiership defender Darryl Wakelin – a win against St Kilda in Round 5, 2007. Former Port Adelaide wingman Danyle Pearce joins Ebert and Wakelin on the list of only nine players to have achieved the feat. Playing for Fremantle, Pearce suffered defeat to Port in Round 2, 2017 by 89 points.