Thursday, July 9, 2015, 7.50pm AEST, Adelaide Oval, watch on Seven Network, Fox Footy
Port Adelaide Power
Ladder position: 12th
Season record: 5-8-0
Last five: WWLLL
Ladder position: Fifth
Season record: 8-5-0
Last five: WWWLL
Oh, how the Collingwood fans love ya.
This game between Port Adelaide ($1.92 with Crownbet.com.au) and Collingwood ($1.93 with WilliamHill.com.au) is all about one man – Dane Swan – as the tattooed one celebrates his 250th appearance in the black and white.
The enigmatic midfielder has had to be treated for leather poisoning often throughout his glittering career and the Brownlow Medallist and Premiership player will become just the 12th Magpie to break the magical 250 game barrier.
At 31, the three time best and fairest winner still has plenty to offer a young Magpies side that has pushed two of the best teams in the AFL in the past two weeks in Hawthorn and Fremantle, but ultimately fallen short.
And he says he’s enjoying the game as much as he ever has and even feels like he could play past his current contract, which is up at the end of next season.
“This has been as enjoyable year as I have had since 2010-11,” Swan said.
“The group is really tight.
“I think it shows in the way we play we care about each other and I think Bucks (coach Nathan Buckley) has got the group going in the right direction.
“If I’m still going OK, the club still wants me and there is a spot for me somewhere, maybe (I will play) another year, but there is still bit of footy to go before I start worrying about 2017.
“If I think there is a premiership in sight, I’ll certainly keep going.
“If we continue to bring this effort and intensity each week, we think we can go as far as we want.”
A candid Swan spoke with media today, saying the secret to his longevity was: “I’m like a cockroach, they just can’t kill me.”
He said the main difference at Collingwood was “Bucks is the coach, Mick (Malthouse) is not.”
“My friends have gone (Daisy Thomas, Dayne Beams, etc).
“There is another big difference.
“Footy is just evolving.”
He can start on that path this weekend by finding plenty of the footy as his boys try to atone for the pair of gallant losses against the two premiership fancies.
After copping Hawthorn (fourth) and Fremantle (top) in the past two weeks, you’d think the Power was a bit of an easier task.
Not so, with the game being played on the road at the cauldron that is Adelaide Oval.
While the Power haven’t exactly set the AFL world on fire, after starting the season as one of the favourites for the premiership, they are still a tough ask at home, especially with the two previous bruising encounters for the Magpies.
Against the Hawks, make no mistake, Collingwood should have won.
It had 31 scoring shots to 26, missing several very gettable ones with the game in the balance in the 15.11 (101) to 12.19 (91) loss.
Captain courageous Scott Pendlebury was simply superb, snaring 37 disposals with 10 tackles and six marks in probably his best performance of the season, while Steele Sidebottom also had one of his best games of the year with 30 touches.
Young bucks Jack Crisp (28 disposals, seven tackles, five marks and a goal) and Marley Williams (27 possies, with five marks and a goal) also stood up against the reigning premiers, helping keep the Pies in it throughout the match.
But it wasn’t to be as a five goal haul from little master Cyril Rioli proved the difference.
“I think there’s a little bit of licence to be good that’s still there to be taken by our players, maybe even just the licence to be great,” Buckley said of his charges.
“I think we potentially could be good right now: our consistency of effort, the strength of our leadership and our connection out on field is at a level where you can be more than competitive against any opposition.
“So the next step is to go from good to great on-field, and we’ve got great standards and, using (murdered Adelaide Crows coach) Phil Walsh’s terms, we’ve got elite standards on and off the field.
“We’re really in the infancy of that, and how long that takes is up to us and our belief.”
Three losses in a row has severely impacted on Port’s finals hopes, the latest failure a manful effort on the road against Sydney.
They fought hard, but it was ultimately fruitless as the Swans held on for a 14.10 (94) to 12.12 (84) win.
It certainly wasn’t Robbie Gray’s fault the Power lost.
The gun spent time forward and in the midfield, collecting 32 disposals with six tackles and kicking a goal.
Actually, maybe we’re wrong – the star kicked three behinds. Had he kicked truly, the result might have been different.
Hard nut Ollie Wines enhanced his reputation against the powerful Swans midfield machine, collecting 29 possessions, most of those contested, while Jasper Pittard had 27 with eight marks.
Chad Wingard continued his hot form with three goals.
Coach Ken Hinkley hinted he could swing the axe, so it will be interesting to see who makes the cut.
“My responsibility as coach is to reward people if they deserve to come up but also make sure people understand that there’s a level you have to deliver to hold your spot in the side,” Hinkley said.
“There are players who are not in good enough form to play in AFL football at the moment so we have to be prepared to look at that.
Match winner: Port Adelaide Power ($1.92 with crownbet.com.au)
Tri bet: Either team to win by under 15.5 ($2.45 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Gee, we want to tip the Pies in Swanny’s 250th. We almost did. But we’ve had a little each way. We think they will just fall short in a third gallant performance in a row, but they should be able to keep it close enough to ensure if they lose, it won’t be by much. Bruising encounters against Fremantle and then Hawthorn will impact on any team and, if this game was at the MCG, we’d have gone with the Magpies. Instead, the sore bodies have to get on a plane to Adelaide and take on a Power side desperate to somehow get its season back on track after three straight losses. While they remain unconvincing – and the Pies do tend to travel well – we think their strong effort in pushing Sydney to the brink at the SCG will be enough to inspire a narrow home victory. We won’t be surprised if the Pies eke this one out, but we think Port will just have enough to get over the line.
First goal scorer tips
Port Adelaide Power
Robbie Gray ($17 with sportsbet.com.au)
Kick straight Robbie. It’s good for your side’s winning percentage. Despite missing three of his four shots at goal, Gray had a superb game against the Swans and will be keen to continue that against the Magpies on his home deck. Some straight kicking would help though and we reckon he’ll have his kicking boots on against the Pies. Spends a lot more time in the midfield these days and only has 13 goals for the year after kicking 42 last season, but has kicked truly in each of his last nine appearances.
Jay Schulz ($11 with sportsbet.com.au)
The Power’s main avenue to goal is a hard leading, straight kicking man mountain who has kicked 26 goals for the year. But he’s struck a lean patch. With just two goals in the last three weeks, it will be tough for him to break out of his funk with the ravenous pressure expected to be exerted by Collingwood. But we think that, again, the home ground advantage, should give him the chance to do so and at least kick the first goal of the match.
Scott Pendlebury ($21 with sportsbet.com.au)
Pendles was an absolute brute against the Hawks last week. But the inspirational midfielder failed to hit the scoreboard after kicking goals in seven of his last nine. Starts in the middle, so you obviously want to hope they can get a stoppage in their forward line if it goes Collingwood’s way early, but is more than capable of booting the first one if he can get forward. Has 10 goals for the year, we’d be more than happy if he made it 11 with the first of the match, at some pretty sweet odds.
Jesse White ($14 with sportsbet.com.au)
We’ve shied away from our usual safe pick in Travis Cloke – hopefully not to our detriment. Make sure this mentally frail big man is picked, but if he does make the side, he is a beautiful kick for goal – when the game isn’t on the line. Should start in the forward line and, despite missing golden chances against both the Dockers and Hawks in previous weeks, we’re backing White to hit the scoreboard early. We don’t think he has the yips, so you should be confident if he gets an early chance. What we do think is the pressure gets to him when he has to shoot for goal when the game is on the line.
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