FINALLY, we got one of the more gripping finals encounters that will down in history
as a bottler!!
After a weekend of embarrassing September blowouts, the West Coast Eagles and
Port Adelaide elimination final delivered an incredible contest that had everything.
The Good, the bad and the ugly is a term that can be used for almost every football
contest but this do or die contest carried more weight and a heavy price for the
loser which needed extra time and then some to determine the winner.
This contest encapsulated such tenacity of two comebacks in the one along with a
dour and low scoring third quarter that was ultra defensive allowing only one goal in
almost 30 minutes
The Eagles line up for the contest featured more the wealthy band of experienced
veterans and bigger bodies that translated to a fast start as the Eagles jumped out
to a 19 point lead before any Port Adelaide player could realise they were playing an
an important final. The much maligned forward, Jack Darling, kicking the first two
goals of the game before spearhead goal kicker Josh Kennedy received a free kick
for the team’s third goal. The first quarter was dominated by the Eagles as they
opened up a 20 point lead which was was quite the flattering margin for the Power.
Ex-Kangaroo veteran of over 300 games, Drew Petrie was superb with some
outstanding play as he turned back the clock and having an incredible game with
such purpose. The All Australian selectors may have made a massive mistake with
plucking Paddy Ryder’s name from a random hat for his mysterious and subjective
selection of an All Australian this year as he was nowhere to be found for the first
three quarters. The 34 year old veteran completely embarrassed Paddy Ryder who
is deemed to have had a career best season. Go figure.
The Power finally started waking up in the second quarter after the Eagles kicked
away to a 31 point lead as they dominated all facets of the game. If it wasn’t for the
Power forward, Charlie Dixon who seemed to be the only Port Adelaide player who
showed any sign of life, this contest would of been headed for another horrid
blowout in a weekend loaded with dismal contests.
Charlie Dixon was the ringleader in the Power’s awakening as the Power slowly
clawed their way out of their hole with seven of the last nine scores of the second
quarter to suddenly making this a contest as the Power surged back to get within
11 points at the main break. Charlie Dixon was quite the influential factor with three
goals and also missed opportunities that should of tied the score at half time.
The third quarter was as dour and defensive as any game in the history as neither
team could make good on limited opportunities even though Port Adelaide messed
up three chances to score that missed completely. A goal by Chad Wingard over
half way into the quarter broke the goal drought as the Power closed within five
points as the power continued to press but spray chances. The Eagles defence was
extreme under pressure for much of this third quarter as this arm wrestle contest
was emerging. The Eagles barely had any scoring opportunities in the quarter with
only a behind scored early in the quarter whilst the Power scrambled with 1.3 to set
up tense final stanza.
A cameo appearance by Paddy Ryder emerged early in the last quarter as the
Power sparked into action to turn the momentum their way. Goals to midfielders
Ollie Wines and Sam Powell-Pepper for Port opened up a nine point lead the should
of been 15 after Charlie Dixon broke away to be running into an open goalmouth
only to miss it with a bending kick. The Eagles at this point had lead for almost 100
minutes until the Power snatched the lead. The Eagles didn’t panic however and
showed some resolve by striking back with immediate goals from the Brownlow
Medalist and former skipper, Matt Priddis who cooly slotted a goal from a set shot
then another from Drew Petrie to give the Eagles back their lead. This contest went
up another gear with more attacking flair but the West Coast defence led by
roadblock Jeremy McGovern who was sublime with many intercept marking and
effective play that saved the Eagles during the third and last quarters. It was a
gripping and very tense few final minutes as the Power continued to surge. A snap
from the pocket from the Port skipper, Travis Boak, hit the goal post that tied the
scores but it was the play by Eric MacKenzie moments later that saved the Eagles
as the ball was kicked deep into scoring pocket of Port Adelaide as Charlie Dixon
was hunting down the Eagles defender on the last line only for the Eagles defender
to turn right and crash into the point post that allowed the ball to spill out of bounds
and deny a crucial rushed behind with less than 30 seconds remaining. The Eagles
somehow found ways to force the ball out to midfield before a last shot by the
Power to kick back into the fwd 50 only for Drew Petrie to hold out the Power as the
siren sounded to make it the third tie in a final forcing five minutes of extra time
It was shaping up to be a cracking finish. The Power seemed more energised with a
home crowd of over 50,000 urging them closer and closer. It was frantic and quite
tense. But what was to follow in extra-time allowed for another crazy twist in this
contest that only allowed five goals in the last hour of regulation time.
The Power capitalised early but it wasn’t without some umpire confusing decision
at the other end of the field that was baffling to say the least. The Power benefitted
with a free-kick that was clearly interference on their part in the attacking goalmouth
of the Eagles as the Power scored the first goal from Sam Gray only to have the
dangerous Charlie Dixon miss another opportunity (his fifth behind) them Ollie
Wines goaled to make it his second and extend the Power’s lead to 13 points. The
Eagles immediately replied as they won the clearance from the middle to have a
lunging Port defender trap the ball on the Eagles spearhead’s foot but the Eagles
forward somehow managed to sink enough of his slipper into the penetration of the
sliding ball off the turf to be awarded a dubious goal. It’s worth noting earlier that
the Eagles were denied a goal by another controversial decision that wasn’t
With such attacking flair in the first half of extra time, Port led by seven points. In
the second half of the deciding final five minutes remaining, this contest was to go
the distance as Power Power continued to miss opportunities (3) as Josh Kennedy
goaled first for the Eagles to make the difference two points. It was manical, it was
fierce, it was sheer desperation. Impossible to determine who was going to win as
the power held on by four points as the clock winded down inside the last minute.
The Eagles last roll of the dice seemed costly as West Coast defender Dom Sheed
(#4) bent his kick the wrong way from the Eagles forward pocket but there just
enough seconds to go as the kicked thrust forward and an errant tackle on Eagle
Luke Shuey was awarded a free kick. The siren sounded as the Eagle went back to
kick on goal from 40 metres out with relatively no angle to speak of.
Luke Shuey held his nerve to kick a goal after the siren to give West Coast a
remarkable triumph – 12.6 (78) to 10.16 (76). An amazing finish. Eagles pip the
Power by two measly points!