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Matches against Port Adelaide in 2014


P-man

  

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The most intriguing matches of season 2014 for me were those against Port Adelaide.

Here is a team that came within three points of making a Grand Final, and that was against the eventual and convincing premiers. A team that completely destroyed a hapless Richmond in the final series after the Tigers were on a roll of nine consecutive wins. A team that in 2014 was ranked first for inside 50s. Second for points scored. Second for clearances. The list goes on. They are a club that will be expecting to have a genuine tilt at a flag in 2015.

And yet in our two fixtures last season, whilst being on the wrong side of the scoreboard when the final siren went, we were more than competitive. The final margin of twenty points in the first match was, on the whole, not a fair reflection of the closeness of match with the four point differential at the last change being the more accurate indicator. The three point difference in the second match tells its own story.

These were arguably the best performances for the year taking into account the quality of the opponent. In truth, for large portions and perhaps a majority of each match, Melbourne made Port look second rate. That is a remarkable thing to consider within the context of the season.

The theories as to why this happened are varied:

  • Timing: In the first match, Melbourne had come off the back of an uplifting win against Richmond and were producing a competitive brand of football. In the second match, Port were caught in the middle of a form slump, coming off the back of three consecutive losses. The argument being that we caught them at exactly the right time to provide a competitive match
  • Game plan: Melbourne's defensive and contested style was able to choke their opponent and restrict their running game that had become something of a trademark and a key to their successes
  • Match ups: Some teams basically match up well against others. The most notable in this instance was Nev Jetta all but totally nullifying the dangerous Chad Wingard in both games, whilst Port seemingly had no-one to shut down Jones and Tyson, at least to the extent of other sides
  • Age: It can be easy to forget that Port are still a young side themselves. When an opposing team gets a roll on they don't have the wealth of age and experience that sides like Sydney and Hawthorn possess to stem the bleeding
  • Port underestimated their opponent: Port may have gone into the match ready to give their all but were thrown off by a competitive Melbourne side and struggled to adjust to the contest
  • Port flicked the switch when they needed to: There is an argument that Port basically knew they would get the points by coasting through the first three quarters and switching on in the last. My personal view is that this excuse is not only arrogant, it's a little too convenient. It would also seem at odds with Port's "never give up" playing philosophy that has been so admired by neutral observers. Conversely I can understand some holding this belief when looking at the way in which the matches played out.
So which one is it, or is there another theory behind Melbourne's performances in these matches? I've channelled my inner RR and added a poll with multiple response.

More importantly:

  • What can be learned from these performances in terms of future matchups against Port and the season ahead?
  • For the more astute footy brains amongst us, what did you spot in these matches that differed from others in terms of running, positioning, skills, intensity etc.
  • Can these performances be cast off as just a good day at the office or did they provide insight into what a future Melbourne side is capable of producing?
Edited by P-man
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Someone with a better memory than me will recall we were crucified by the umps in the game at Adelaide oval. Watts I remember made a beautiful spoil that was awarded a front contact free when he clearly hit the ball first. That goal on 3/4 time changed the momentum we had. There were a few other clangers that cost us dearly. Could well have won without the maggots interfering

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Is it just we are so glad to be not playing at our graveyard out at West Lakes/ AMMI whatever that hellhole of a ground was called outside Adelaide. That ground buried many of our finals campaigns under ND, either in actual finals games or because we lost games there in the home and away we should have won and so as usual ended up finishing 7 or 8th.

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Someone with a better memory than me will recall we were crucified by the umps in the game at Adelaide oval. Watts I remember made a beautiful spoil that was awarded a front contact free when he clearly hit the ball first. That goal on 3/4 time changed the momentum we had. There were a few other clangers that cost us dearly. Could well have won without the maggots interfering

It was actually 16 - 14 free kicks in our favour. I think what made it seem worse was that horrible decision just before 3/4 time that you mentioned.

Wingard was kept to 5 disposals however Westhoff had a good second half and he was the difference if I recall correctly.

Robbie Gray had a few weak frees, I think it was Watts who had the free for the spoil paid against him and it went to Gray.

Edit: referring to round 11 match.

Edited by Ethan Tremblay
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What if they 'work' us out?

They are obviously a wildly superior team and with a few tweaks - they might think they should blow us away.

I understand the desire to say 'we were only a few well placed goals from doing the double over PA' but on the other hand, we were a few well placed goals from beating absolutely no-one last year.

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They are obviously a wildly superior team and with a few tweaks - they might think they should blow us away.

Are they though? That's partly what I'm driving at. Looking at these matches in isolation, "wildly superior" would appear an overstatement. Keeping in mind there are two matches to draw upon.

Of course the ladder doesn't lie and they are a very well drilled outfit. And yes they may just need to "work us out". But if we can give a side like Port a run for their money, twice, that has to mean something. Maybe we're not that far away from a Port-like jump ourselves.

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Are they though? That's partly what I'm driving at. Looking at these matches in isolation, "wildly superior" would appear an overstatement. Keeping in mind there are two matches to draw upon.

Of course the ladder doesn't lie and they are a very well drilled outfit. And yes they may just need to "work us out". But if we can give a side like Port a run for their money, twice, that has to mean something. Maybe we're not that far away from a Port-like jump ourselves.

They were very close to beating Hawthorn in the Prelim. Are we close to Hawthorn? The ladder doesn't lie, but those games against PA have led us astray in my view - I think we will be better next year, but worse against PA.

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They were very close to beating Hawthorn in the Prelim. Are we close to Hawthorn? The ladder doesn't lie, but those games against PA have led us astray in my view - I think we will be better next year, but worse against PA.

Hawthorn I would describe as vastly superior, because they have the consistency. Port are still prone to bad trots of form as seen in their mid season slump.

The match next season will be very interesting. Mentality seems to play a bigger part with our boys than it does others. We beat Essendon because we know we can beat them. We can't beat North because we haven't beaten them since Adam was a boy. Two teams that are very similar in quality.

We will see how this works to our benefit, if at all. But if we can take it up to Port, I think there are others we definitely need to be knocking off in 2015.

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