PORT ADELAIDE beat North Melbourne by 52 points to open its AFL premiership season on Sunday afternoon.
Port started slowly at Marvel Stadium but eventually overcame a determined Kangaroos outfit.
Here are some key things we learned from the game.
1. Round 1 specialists?
Ken Hinkley doesn’t like Round 1 predictions all that much. After Sunday’s win over North Melbourne he explained it’s a dangerous round without enough of a form guide on any side to get a gauge on where they are at. But Port Adelaide has made a habit of winning in Round 1, claiming victory in nine of its past ten Round 1 encounters. Its only loss came in a seven-point defeat to Fremantle at Subiaco back in 2015. Under Hinkley the record includes two wins over Melbourne (2013 and 2019), and victories over the Kangaroos (2021), Gold Coast (2020), Fremantle (2018), Sydney (2017), St Kilda (2016) and Carlton (2014).
2. Fantasia’s four-star debut
Orazio Fantasia caused a stir when he left Essendon to return home to South Australia and was traded to Port Adelaide in the off-season. The talented forward has had terrible luck with injuries in recent seasons but has had a strong pre-season with his new club and looked sharp in his official club debut. He booted 4.4 including a burst of three goals in the second quarter when Port ripped the game apart and took absolute control. His speed, positioning and willingness to work to get the ball were a highlight and a reason Port was so keen to get him to Alberton.
Statistics guru @sirswampthing on Twitter pointed out it was the second-best club debut in terms of number of goals scored for Port in the AFL. His four goals places him in second behind none other than the club’s current midfield coach Jarrad Schofield who nailed five goals straight from eleven disposals against Sydney in his debut in 1999 after coming across from West Coast.
Most goals for PORT on club debut— Swamp (@sirswampthing) March 21, 2021
5 - Jarrad Schofield
4 - ORAZIO FANTASIA
3 - Che Cockatoo-Collins
3 - Charlie Dixon
3 - Sam Gray
3 - Angus Monfries
3 - David Rodan
3 - Jack Watts
3 - Justin Westhoff
@PAFC @AFL #AFLNorthPort
3. Boak continues where he left off
The former Port Adelaide skipper is coming off a career-best season in 2020 that netted a third All-Australian jumper and a runner-up finish in the Brownlow Medal and there's nothing to suggest he plans on slowing down any time soon. Boak was a class above any player on the field on Sunday in a standout individual performance that could easily net him three votes come Brownlow night later in the year. Boak’s first half saw him register 21 disposals (10 contested), seven clearances, nine score involvements, three tackles and a goal before a corky slowed him down in the second half. He finished with 27 touches, three marks, four tackles, 449 metres gained and a game-high 12 score involvements.
4. Robbie Gray the catalyst.
Ollie Wines admitted his side deserved a good old fashioned quarter time spray from coach Ken Hinkley, especially because it was being beaten in the clearances and contested possessions, giving the Kangaroos plenty of opportunities to score. After quarter time Robbie Gray bobbed up in the midfield and even at 32 years of age, he showed how important he is to the side, especially his clearance work. After just three touches playing up forward in the first term, Gray had nine in the second as Port kicked away to turn a two-point deficit into a 40-point lead at half time. He followed up with another seven third-quarter disposals and finished with a game-high seven clearances, equal with Boak.
5. North record still poor
Port Adelaide can lay claim to a positive winning record against every club bar five in the competition and that includes North Melbourne. Despite winning seven of the last ten against the Kangaroos, Port still trails 15-22 from 37 meetings. This goes back to Port’s arrival in the AFL where it lost its first nine games to North between May 1997 and July 2002. Its first win over the Roos came Round 8, 2003 by 54 points at Football Park. For the record, the other clubs Port has a poor record against are Geelong (11 wins, one draw, 23 losses), Sydney (11 wins, 20 losses) and Greater Western Sydney (five wins, six losses). Against Adelaide the ledger is 24-all in 48 Showdowns.