Sam Berry is tackled by Jason Horne-Francis during an AFL practice match between Port Adelaide and Adelaide at Alberton Oval on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT ADELAIDE midfielder Jason Horne-Francis has shown the benefits of an outstanding pre-season, starring against Adelaide as the two SA rivals played out an entertaining 14.9 (93) draw over four quarters at Alberton on Friday night.

Horne-Francis displayed his familiar power out of the contest and combined it with fine decision-making and familiar agility, complementing superstar teammate Zak Butters and new captain Connor Rozee who both displayed their class.


However the Power face a nervous wait to see whether explosive half-forward Sam Powell-Pepper will be available for round one after his high bump in the first quarter left Adelaide defender Mark Keane concussed.

Keane was helped from the field by trainers and the Crows confirmed shortly afterwards that he had suffered concussion, ruling him out of next Friday's practice match against West Coast at a minimum.


The good news stories for the Crows centred on the forward line, where a bigger, stronger Riley Thilthorpe (two goals) was powerful in the contest and on the lead, a creative Ned McHenry finished with three goals and Izak Rankine (two majors) was at his mercurial best.

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The two sides played four 28-minute quarters in front of a healthy crowd of 5,211 at Alberton, before both clubs rang the changes for the final two periods of match simulation. Port Adelaide finished the six-period contest in front by 22 points, 21.12 (138) to 17.14 (116). 

Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades continued building towards his top-flight return from an knee reconstruction with three goals in the final three periods of the contest, but first-year small forward Lachie Charleson was on crutches after the game with a leg injury. 

Aliir Aliir competes with Riley Thilthorpe during an AFL practice match between Port Adelaide and Adelaide at Alberton Oval on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Young guns
Crows forward Riley Thilthorpe has added more size to his towering frame and looked strong on the lead and in the contest, throughout the first four periods. Adelaide's top draft pick Dan Curtin was quiet but showed his class with a strong intercept mark late in the fourth. Third-year Power onballer Josh Sinn, who impressed in an intraclub game last week, came on after half-time and immediately started finding the footy.

Switching positions
Both teams set up in relatively familiar fashion but Izak Rankine's midfield cameos in the third period were of note. His pace, agility and sharp delivery could add another element to the Crows' midfield setup.


Injury watch
Adelaide defender Mark Keane will be assessed after suffering concussion after a high bump from Sam Powell-Pepper. At the least, he will miss next week's practice match against West Coast.

Fantasy tempters
($614,000) looked terrific on a back of a strong pre-season, while his midfield mate Zak Butters ($898,000) appears set to back up his premium-worthy 2023 campaign. Reilly O'Brien ($798,000) was strong in the ruck against Ivan Soldo. The prospect of Rankine ($670,000) adding midfield minutes to his scoring power makes him a seriously tempting option, while Ned McHenry ($402,000) looked excellent as a clever small forward who can also find the footy.  

Ned McHenry celebrates a goal during Adelaide's match simulation clash with Port Adelaide on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT ADELAIDE         3.1       7.3       11.5     14.9 (93)
ADELAIDE                   2.2       5.5       10.6     14.9 (93)
* after the first four periods

Port Adelaide: Byrne-Jones 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Burton 2, Rozee 2, Rioli 2, Dixon, McEntee, Finlayson, Georgiades
Adelaide: McHenry 3, Fogarty 2, Thilthorpe 2, Rachele 2, Rankine 2, Keays 2, Pedlar

1. Connor Rozee, 2. Sam Powell-Pepper, 3. Ryan Burton, 5. Dan Houston, 6. Kane Farrell, 7. Jase Burgoyne, 8. Josh Sinn, 9. Zak Butters, 10. Travis Boak, 11. Jeremy Finlayson, 12. Trent McKenzie, 13. Ivan Soldo, 14. Miles Bergman, 15. Willie Rioli, 16. Ollie Wines, 17. Tom Clurey, 18. Jason Horne-Francis, 19. Mitch Georgiades, 21. Aliir Aliir, 22. Charlie Dixon, 23. Dylan Williams, 24. Jordon Sweet, 25. Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, 26. Lachie Charleson, 27. Esava Ratugolea, 29. Tom Anastasopoulos, 30. Ollie Lord, 31. Francis Evans, 32. Tom Scully, 33. Darcy Byrne-Jones, 34. Lachie Jones, 36. Will Lorenz, 38. Dante Visentini, 41. Jed McEntee, 44. Jackson Mead, 45. Xavier Walsh

Notable absentees: Todd Marshall, Willem Drew, Quinton Narkle

1. Chayce Jones, 2. Ben Keays, 3. Sam Berry, 4. Lachlan Murphy, 5. Matt Crouch, 6. Dan Curtin, 7. Riley Thilthorpe, 8. Josh Rachele, 10. Luke Pedlar, 11. Charlie Edwards, 12. Jordan Dawson, 13. Taylor Walker, 15. Brayden Cook, 16. Max Michalanney, 17. Will Hamill, 19. Zak Taylor, 20. Mitch Hinge, 21. Chris Burgess, 22. Oscar Ryan, 23. Izak Rankine, 24. Josh Worrell, 25. Ned McHenry, 27. Luke Nankervis, 29. Rory Laird, 31. Billy Dowling, 32. Darcy Fogarty, 33. Brodie Smith, 34. Elliott Himmelberg, 35. James Borlase, 36. Karl Gallagher, 37. Patrick Parnell, 38. Lachlan Sholl, 40. Hugh Bond, 43. Reilly O'Brien, 44. Lachlan Gollant, 45. Kieran Strachan, 48. Mark Keane

Notable absentees: Rory Sloane, Wayne Milera, Jordon Butts, Harry Schoenberg, Nick Murray, Jake Soligo