A four-goal haul from Orazio Fantasia and a superb individual performance from Travis Boak has helped Port Adelaide overcome a slow start to record an impressive 52-point victory over North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Last year's minor premiers trailed a fired up North Melbourne at quarter-time, but booted eight-goals-to-one during a dominant second term to take control of the contest and eventually ran out 17.15 (117) to 9.11 (65) winners.
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Port Adelaide was able to get its trademark running game going during that emphatic second quarter, with Fantasia, Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall the main beneficiaries of some quick ball movement from Boak and co. through the middle of the ground as the match turned within a blink of an eye.
Boak (27 disposals and seven clearances) in particular was influential in helping turn the contest Port's way, with the veteran midfielder getting on top of Luke Davies-Uniacke in the centre square to ensure the momentum swung and the chances of an upset quickly evaporated.
While Boak was clear best-on-ground for the winners, Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley will be buoyed by the form of Fantasia and fellow off-season recruit Aliir Aliir.
Fantasia booted 4.4 and could have easily kicked a couple more majors, Aliir controlled proceedings across half back, while midfield bull Ollie Wines collected 30 disposals in yet another consistent showing.
The final three terms were a vast contrast to what was witnessed during the opening stanza, with onball duo Davies-Uniacke and Jaidyn Stephenson providing North Melbourne fans with a glimmer of hope as the Kangaroos outmuscled their more highly fancied opponents to take a two-point lead at quarter-time.
Davies-Uniacke (20 possessions) made an explosive start to the clash, but it was Stephenson that impressed most over the four quarters with a career high 33 disposals in a mainly midfield role in his first game in blue and white.
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Debutant Tom Powell kicked a goal with his first kick and showed some good signs for David Noble's youthful side, while Lachie Young, Connor Menadue and Aidan Corr looked assured on debut for their new club.
Port Adelaide's victory was soured somewhat by a hamstring injury to Riley Bonner, while North Melbourne will be sweating on the MRO's findings after small forward Kayne Turner was placed on report for rough conduct on Xavier Duursma.
Brilliant Boak ageing like a fine wine
The former Port Adelaide skipper is coming off a career-best season in 2020 that netted a third All-Australian jumper and a runner-up finish in the Brownlow Medal and there's nothing to suggest he plans on slowing down any time soon. Boak was a class above any player on the field on Sunday in a standout individual performance that could easily net him three votes come Brownlow night later in the year.
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It's fair to say that Luke Davies-Uniacke hasn't reached the lofty expectations expected of him during his first 30 games since being taken at pick four in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, but that looks set to change if his opening term against Port Adelaide at Marvel is anything to go by. Davies-Uniacke has bulked up noticeably during an impressive pre-season and showed his immense talent with 12 disposals and a goal during the opening quarter on Sunday in an eye-catching performance. With Todd Goldstein and Ben Cunnington ageing, Davies-Uniacke is among the new breed of midfielders at Arden Street that will be expected to help the club regain their status in the top half of the ladder in the coming years.
New boys could prove the difference
Ken Hinkley's side only lost on four occasions last season, but one of those losses was when a narrow six-point defeat against Richmond on their home deck in the preliminary final. An off-season recruiting drive that netted former Bomber Orazio Fantasia and ex-Swan Aliir Allir looks like it may help Port Adealide go even deeper into September in 2021 as the duo have fitted in perfectly at Alberton. Fantasia booted four goals and was lively throughout Sunday's contest, while Aliir commanded the half-back line by picking up 14 touches and taking four marks.
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.4 3.6 5.8 9.11 (65)
PORT ADELAIDE 2.2 10.4 14.8 17.15 (117)
North Melbourne: Scott 2, Thomas 2, Goldstein, Davies-Uniacke, Powell, Walker, Mahony
Port Adelaide: Fantasia 4, Boak 2, Dixon 2, Butters 2, Marshall 2, Amon, Bonner, Lycett, Motlop, Duursma
North Melbourne: Stephenson, Simpkin, Davies-Uniacke, Thomas, Young, McKay
Port Adelaide: Boak, Fantasia, Wines, Gray, Drew, Aliir
North Melbourne: Luke McDonald (quad) replaced by Connor Menadue, Corr (toe), Taylor (head)
Port Adelaide: Bonner (hamstring)
North Melbourne: Turner (reported for rough conduct on Duursma)
Port Adelaide: Nil
North Melbourne: Lazzaro (replaced Corr)
Port Adelaide: Rockliff (replaced Bonner)
Crowd: TBC at Marvel Stadium