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Port Adelaide weather the storm to win battle of wills against Collingwood

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2.4   7.8  10.1  14.14 (98)
1.3   4.4    8.8  10.11  (71)

GOALS – Port: S. Gray, Boak 2, R. Gray, Dixon, Ryder, Neade, Wines, Houston, Ah Chee, Wines, Impey, Howard. 
Collingwood: Reid 4, Elliott, Hoskin-Elliott, Sidebottom, Phillips, Moore, Blair.
BEST – Port: Ebert, Wingard, Pittard, Wines, Amon, Neade.
Collingwood: Reid, Sidebottom, Crisp, Treloar, Howe, Langdon.
UMPIRES: Fisher,  Rosebury, Deboy.
CROWD: 37,533 at Adelaide Oval.

Port Adelaide kept their final four chances alive by beating Collingwood at Adelaide Oval tonight, but don’t get too excited – they remain a long way off from being a powerhouse.

For two sides fighting for credibility this wasn’t completely a memorable a classic, and for Port hardly redemption for their record-loss to Adelaide the previous week as they had just two tackles in the opening term.

It was a battle of clangers early, but after half-time the game developed into a fierce contest as if their season depended on it – and of course, it did.

The Magpies looked well beaten as they trailed by 34 points midway through the third term, but in a spirited comeback led by Sam Reid who set the game alight after a poor first half, it was ‘game on’. They got within eight points in a space of eight minutes, but ultimately paid the price for their errant early play.

The game started almost as if both sides were terrified of making mistakes; Collingwood with their predominant short, patient game often frustrating the Power, who in turn displayed a lot of endeavour but not always skill. While the Pies turned the ball over with wayward kicks, Port’s handball game came unstuck under self-imposed pressure.

The Power was also prepared to take more risks, playing-on at nearly every opportunity, while Collingwood’s more cautious approach, especially early, allowed Port to set up their defensive structure.

The difference was that Port had far more even spread of contributors – too many Collingwood players simply struggled to make their presence felt.

There were key changes from recent contests. Collingwood won their share of centre clearances, but with Port starting their captain Travis Boak across half-back as a loose defender the Pies found it difficult to deliver clean disposals inside-50. Teammate Dougal Howard did well in his new defensive role.

As named, 211cm Mason Cox played in ruck for Collingwood, and while he didn’t dominate one of the competition’s best rucks this season in Paddy Ryder, he played well enough to suggest he can be a valuable asset here.

In the battle of taps, Cox won more than his share and was a strong competitor. Although Ryder used his taps to better advantage, the effort by Cox was good enough to suggest Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley will be encouraged to persist with him as a ruckman-come-forward.

Robbie Gray was again a key factor in the result; again with mercurial efforts even though at times he struggled to kick close to 50 metres unlike his match-winning goal against St Kilda. He started midfield where he also played a significant role.

Ollie Wines was also among a host of very good players for Port, but whether he plays another crucial game against the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat next Saturday depends on whether his questionable shoulder bump to the head of Tom Langdon late in the first term is deemed worthy of suspension by the match review panel.

Port and Collingwood reminded us of their character by taking the game to much higher levels under pressure in the second half, but maybe not enough to suggest the current premiership table bellies their standing.

This was a weakened Collingwood side and they didn’t have it easy, but they certainly didn’t disgrace themselves.

Brad Ebert (Port Adelaide) 8
Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide) 8
Ben Reid (Collingwood) 8
Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood) 7
Jasper Pittard (Port Adelaide) 7

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