PORT Adelaide has continued its scintillating early season form and underlined its status as a premiership contender with a thumping 54-point win over an injury-hit Essendon at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Zak Butters (36 disposals and one goal), Ollie Wines (38 disposals) and Charlie Dixon (four goals) starred for the Power in their 18.11 (119) to 9.11 (65) win, which followed their 52-point rout of North Melbourne in round 1.
While much of the pre-game focus was on Orazio Fantasia’s first game against his former club, the lively forward was relatively quiet and finished with 2.3 and 17 touches.
POWER v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
Port Adelaide got off to a hot start, kicking two goals in the opening three minutes through Charlie Dixon and Zak Butters.
Essendon meanwhile struggled to get their hands on the ball. By the time Peter Ladhams rolled through the Power’s fifth unanswered goal midway through the first quarter, Port led the disposal count 62-22, inside 50s 10-2 and the clearances 8-2.
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After Cale Hooker stemmed the bleeding with Essendon’s first goal, the Bombers started to work their way back into the contest, but were only able to add 0.4 to go into quarter-time 27 points behind.
The Bombers tried valiantly all day to keep themselves in the game, but were overwhelmed by the Power’s slick ball movement and strong marking tall forwards – particularly Dixon and young forward Mitch Georgiades (four goals).
Hooker and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti played a lone hand up forward for the Bombers, combining to kick six of Essendon’s nine goals.
The Bombers’ loss was compounded by injuries to Jye Caldwell (hamstring), Sam Draper (leg) and Dylan Shiel, who limped off the ground in the final quarter with a knee concern and later appeared on crutches.
Perfect start for Fantasia
It didn’t take long for Fantasia to make an impact against his former side. In the opening 30 seconds of the game, Fantasia received the ball in the centre, streamed forward and speared the ball inside 50. The ball bounced forward into the goalsquare and landed in the hands of Dixon, who kicked an easy running goal to give the Power the perfect start to the game.
Georgiades takes his chance
Mitch Georgiades came into Saturday’s game as a late replacement for fellow young forward Todd Marshall and certainly made the most of his opportunity, finishing with four goals, 13 touches and eight marks. It was an impressive display for the youngster, who is still only a teenager. His performance will put pressure on Marshall to regain his spot and adds to Port’s impressive arsenal of young stars, including Butters, Xavier Duursma and the currently sidelined Connor Rozee.
Where are Essendon’s goalkickers?
While Hooker and McDonald-Tipungwuti were impressive for the Bombers with three goals each, they proved to be the only consistently dangerous forwards for Essendon, which finished with just nine goals against the Power. With Joe Daniher now settling in at the Lions, the Bombers will be praying for the speedy return of Jake Stringer, who played a VFL practise match on Saturday for the second straight week amid his recovery from an Achilles issue.
PORT ADELAIDE 6.1 11.6 15.10 18.11 (119)
ESSENDON 1.4 4.7 6.8 9.11 (65)
Port Adelaide: Dixon 4, Georgiades 4, Ladhams 2, Motlop 2, Fantasia 2, Butters, Amon, Houston, Lycett
Essendon: Hooker 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 3, Langford, Snelling, Cox
Port Adelaide: Butters, Dixon, Georgiades, Wines, Houston
Essendon: Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Ridley, Merrett, Redman
Port Adelaide: Marshall (back) replaced in selected side by Georgiades
Essendon: Heppell (back) replaced in selected side by Gleeson, Caldwell (hamstring), Draper (leg), Shiel (knee)
Port Adelaide: Tom Rockliff (unused)
Essendon: Tom Cutler (replaced Jye Caldwell)
Crowd: TBC at Adelaide Oval