Port Adelaide made light work of an injury-hit Crows side on Saturday night in a 49-point victory, with the club celebrating by breaking out the prison bar jumper in the rooms after the game.
In wet conditions at Adelaide Oval, Ken Hinkley’s men were made to work for their victory as the Crows matched the appetite for the contest early. It was your typical “wet weather” game of football, bodies flying in, each possession under pressure, and goals at a premium. Port got the better of the early exchanges with Charlie Dixon looking menacing in the forward line.
Ken Hinkley was well served by the usual suspects in ex-skipper Travis Boak (26 disposals), Ollie Wines (24 disposals), and Karl Amon (27 disposals) in the midfield. Tom Clurey kept Crows spearhead Taylor Walker to just six touches and one behind in a truly masterful defensive display and in truth he probably deserved to be considered for the Showdown medal.
Recruit Aliir Aliir was doing what he was brought to the club to do and that was to marshal the defensive troops with his intercepting. Despite only having 12 touches for the game, Aliir was a master at positioning himself across half-back as the Crows struggled all night to get the ball past their half-forward line.
To their credit, however, Adelaide has the better of the exchanges in the second term and deserved to have more than one goal to their name at halftime. Being down two on the bench didn’t help their cause either but the endeavour could not be questioned as they simply were coming up against a team who had too much class on the night.
Up forward for Port, Todd Marshall showed why he frustrates so much as he played a superb game finishing with three goals and 14 touches, Mitch Georgiades booted two goals along with Dixon, while Orazio Fantasia finished with 1.5 in what was an inaccurate night from the former Bomber.
Port Adelaide was never really troubled by the Crows as they were held at arm's length for the majority of the contest. Adelaide never posed a serious threat to the Power as they only managed one goal for the first half and just five for the game while Port kicked 12 majors and should have had more had it not been for inaccurate kicking.
The 49-point margin was a fair reflection of the match although the Crows first-half effort more than matched Port’s. Travis Boak was tagged by young Tom Berry and the ex-skipper still found the football as he worked over the young crow. Boak won his third Showdown medal and he shows no signs of slowing down at the ripe old age of 32.
Robbie Gray played more in the midfield last night and had one of his better games as he adapted to the wet conditions better than most as he finished with 26 touches. Willem Drew continues to impress me and despite only having 16 touches and a well-taken goal on his opposite foot, he is showing why he is such a good talent. His inside work and ability to get in and under are proving to be vital to Port winning the ball at the coalface and giving the Power’s forwards first look.
Overall it was a reasonably straightforward win for Ken Hinkley’s men and even though the first half was quite dour, Port clicked into gear somewhat in the second half to kick eight goals to four to run out easy winners on the night.
All of the Port faithful would have been quite happy with the team's performance however what followed after the game in the rooms is where Port made the biggest statement. After the ceremony on-field had finished, the Power made their way down to the rooms but they stayed away from the cameras for a few minutes.
The entire playing group emerged and they had swapped their home jumpers for the prison bar guernseys to sing the team song. After being denied the opportunity to wear in during the game, Port Adelaide made its statement to show they would not back down to the AFL and Collingwood.
The post-match coverage from Fox Footy was a sight to behold and Port’s wearing of their heritage jumper caught both Jonathan Brown and Garry Lyon off-guard.
“It’s a big statement. Do Collingwood know about this?” Brown said.
His Fox Footy colleague Lyon replied: “I’m sure they don’t – and I think that’s the way they (Port) would like it!”
“They’ll have all their photos, they’ll have all their media shots done in the rooms in their Prison Bar jumper.
“There’s a bit of a statement in all this.”
In their post-match press conference both Ken Hinkley and Travis Boak gave their thoughts on why they wore the prison bars:
“It‘s a show of respect for our heritage, for our past and for our great people who played in it in our past and for our people who turn up and represent this footy club. We started and we began as Port Adelaide and we still are,” Hinkley said to Fox Footy reporters.
“Part of that journey is this amazing jumper which the boys love and the club loves and every one of the people who support this footy club love it. We had to wait until after the game but we‘ll recognise it as often as we have to.”
Ex-skipper Boak spoke of the importance of Port changing into their prison bar jumper after the game:
“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. To sing the song in this guernsey is special and we were able to do that tonight and that was planned,” the three-time Showdown medallist said.
“If we came off winning we‘d sing it 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.”
It was a clear sign the Port Adelaide will not shy away from trying to wear their jumper in the future. It was a good performance from Port as they easily accounted for the Crows but it was their actions post-game that will have the whole football world talking.