PORT ADELAIDE claimed home town bragging rights after a comfortable 49-point win over Adelaide in Showdown XLIX.
Port led throughout the game in front of a big Adelaide Oval crowd, as the venue returned to close to its full capacity for the first time since 2019.
Here are some key things we learned from the game.
1) The Showdown Rivalry is real and the best in the competition
Going into Saturday night’s game, the sparks were flying off the field with clubs trading barbs and Port Adelaide players being given a history session around why the rivalry is so deep and winning is so important. Over the journey form lines and ladder positions have meant very little to the end result and with the overall ledger was 24 wins each in 48 meetings, it was an opportunity for whoever won on Saturday night to go ahead. AFL great Malcolm Blight was among a host of voices who have labelled the Showdown as the best rivalry in the competition and it is hard to argue with that.
2) If Gray doesn’t get the Crows, Boak will
Port Adelaide midfielder Travis Boak won his third Showdown Medal, edging defender Tom Clurey and ruckman Scott Lycett in the voting. Boak had 28 disposals, six clearances, three marks, three tackles and seven score involvements to wind up with his second consecutive Showdown Medal, after winning in the prison bar guernsey in 2020’s Showdown 48. Boak has had more than 25 disposals in every game he has played this season, defying the long-held industry view that you don’t play your best footy after the age of 30.
Boak is one of five players to win three or more Showdown Medals, along with Robbie Gray and Josh Francou and Crows Mark Ricciuto and Sam Jacobs. The only person with more Showdown Medals is Gray. Port Adelaide skipper Tom Jonas summed it up best when in the post-match during an interview with Fox Footy: “He and Robbie just circle these dates on the calendar every year and come to play.”
3) Clurey brilliant in the backline
Port Adelaide’s backline received high praise from coach Ken Hinkley in the post-game, with special attention given to resolute defender Tom Clurey. Clurey kept dangerous Crow Taylor Walker goalless and to just six disposals. With the arrival of Aliir Aliir at Alberton, Clurey’s exploits have probably flown under the radar but the statistics paint a picture of how important he has been. Aliir has had three more intercept marks than Clurey in 2021, with the pair ranked eight and 14th in the competition respectively for that statistic, but Clurey has had more pressure acts (45-44) and more spoils (46-36) than Aliir. The pair’s form has kept Trent McKenzie in the SANFL this season despite his strong showing last year.
4) There should be more SANFL/AFL double headers
It was a special day at Adelaide Oval beyond the return to full capacity. It was a historic double header between Port and Adelaide with the home side getting the job done in both games. Not only did the game give young and inexperienced players from both clubs the opportunity to play at Adelaide Oval, where SANFL finals are played, but it allowed supporters of both clubs to be at both games. SANFL coach Matthew Lokan on Adelaide radio on Monday said while Alberton Oval is Port Adelaide’s home and it would not necessarily be ideal to have double headers all the time in terms of access and revenue for the clubs, having SANFL curtain raisers before Showdowns made sense.
5) Players and supporters are just as passionate about the prison bars
It was a special moment at the end of the AFL game when Port players emerged in the rooms wearing the club’s iconic prison bar guernsey to sing the club song. The AFL had refused the club permission to wear the guernsey on the field but it was hard to ignore the thousands of black and white guernseys that popped up in the stands. Travis Boak summed it up after the game when he said the guernsey was important the club and its people and players wanted to show it was equally important to them. "This guernsey means to so much to our community, to our footy club, to everyone who represents it, everyone who's played in it and everyone who has been around the club and certainly the players as well,” he said. “If we came off winning, (it was planned that) we'd sing (the song) in this guernsey and show our fans that it means just as much to the players as it does the community and it was a great moment."