PORT ADELAIDE went down to Geelong in a game of momentum swings at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.
Port started slow but worked its way into the game off the back of some scintillating Connor Rozee play, but could not maintain its high-pressure game-style and fell 21 points short after the Cats piled on a run of five consecutive goals in the last quarter.
Here are some key things we learned from the game.
1) Experienced Cats make you pay.
Geelong punished Port on the turnover time and time again and it likely proved the difference in what was a see-sawing game with several lead changes. It was the first time Port Adelaide’s defence had conceded 100 points in 2021. But it should have been no surprise as the composed Cats demonstrated their experience. Geelong fielded the oldest team to win an AFL game with an average age of 28 years and 159 days. The Cats had 15 players to have played over 100 games, including eight who had played more than 200 and one over 300. Port on the other hand had eight players who had broken the century mark and just two with more than 200 games. There were 15 at Port who had yet to reach 100 games.
Shaun Higgins— Swamp (@sirswampthing) June 10, 2021
First time a V/@AFL club has played ten 30 year olds in the one team
2) Destructive Dixon despite double team
Charlie Dixon has been criticised in the media for his lack of goals against the top teams but on Thursday night he was a man mountain. While the Cats’ intercept game and an early injury to fellow tall Todd Marshall made it harder for Dixon, he toiled away, eventually getting reward for his effort despite being double or triple-teamed on most occasions the ball came near him. He took six important marks and booted four goals, while also giving Peter Ladhams a chop-out in the ruck. In his 100th game for Port Adelaide since coming across from the Gold Coast at the end of 2015, Dixon showed his importance to the side and ability to compete against a very good, top-four defence.
3) Wines’ work wins plaudits over
The mid-season bye period is the cue for pundits to put together their mid-season All-Australian teams and Ollie Wines was in just about every one that has come out in recent days. And, that should be no surprise given his current form. In a game against the Cats where former skipper Travis Boak was well held until the last quarter, Wines picked up his side and carried it on his back in a powerful showing. He finished with a game-high 29 disposals to go with an incredible 614 metres gained, six tackles, five marks and seven clearances. He also booted a vital goal to halt Geelong’s momentum in the third term, when the Cats had piled on five consecutive majors. He finished as the highest rated player on the ground.
4) Attacking footy is good footy
The coaches might disagree but how good was it to see both sides attacking at will and scoring freely? Going into Thursday night’s game, much of the attention was on the respective backlines of Port and Geelong as the second and top ranked defences in the competition for points conceded. As it finished, Geelong’s 112 points scored well exceeded its average of 88.3 points per game in 2021 and Port’s 91 was just over its 87.3 average. It helps when you have key forwards booting a lot of goals. Port had Connor Rozee and Charlie Dixon with five and four goals respectively while Cats Jeremy Cameron (5), Tom Hawkins (4) and Garry Rohan (3) combined for 12. It was the first time in 2021 that both sides had multiple players kick four goals or more and a sign that when the teams want to score, they can.
5) Rozee back to his best
Having burst onto the scene in 2019 and finishing as Port Adelaide’s leading goalkicker, Connor Rozee was always going to have a hard time to continue being as damaging. The 21-year-old had not kicked a goal since Round 8 but flew out of the blocks to boot four first-quarter goals including three in a devastating seven-minute burst. He would finish with a career-high five goals in a performance that will excite the Port Adelaide supporters. While his goal output now reads at a respectable 11 goals in 10 games, what has been overlooked is that Rozee is rated elite against players across the competition in similar positions for disposals, with 15.4 on average per match in 2021. That’s above his career average of 14.5.