Power set for a percentage booster against insipid Roos
By Jack Kovacic

Port Adelaide will be looking to strengthen its hold on top spot on the ladder when it takes on North Melbourne on Saturday night.

The Power last week defeated Sydney by 26-points thanks to a four goal to zip second quarter which took the game away from the Swans.

Robbie Gray was the catalyst, having his best game for the season and doing most of his work in the first half when the game was there to be won. Gray in the first quarter picked up 11 disposals, two goals and a goal assist before going on to have 19 disposals by half-time when Port Adelaide led by 32-points.

The Swans hit back in the second half, controlling large parts of the third quarter and the early stages of the last. They reduced the margin to three goals midway through the final term, but Port Adelaide were good enough to weather the storm, with goals to Zak Butters and Justin Westhoff ending any chance of a Sydney comeback.

Port Adelaide were boosted by the returns of Connor Rozee (heel), Ryan Burton (hamstring) and Todd Marshall (finger) as the squad is now close to full strength. Rozee had his moments and seemed to be moving free of pain and Burton definitely didn’t have his best outing but will be better for the run.

Todd Marshall didn’t kick a goal and looking at the stats (seven disposals, two tackles and one mark) you’d probably say he had a quiet day, but the effect having him in the team has on Charlie Dixon cannot be understated.

In the eight games Dixon has played alongside Marshall this season, he has kicked 20 goals but in the five games without Marshall, he only managed seven. Simply put, having Marshall in the team provides another option for Port inside 50, dragging defenders away from Dixon and making Port’s forward 50 entries less predictable for the opposition. The goals will come for Marshall but just having him out there is a win in itself for the Power.

North Melbourne come into Saturday’s match off the back of its worst performance of 2020. The Roos were thrashed by 63-points by a Gold Coast side that despite showing some good signs of improvement this year, hadn’t won any of its previous six matches.

North managed just four marks inside 50 from its 37 entries. It scored from just 22% of these while at the other end of the field, Gold Coast scored from 69% of its 45 entries and took 15 marks inside the arc.

Kicking a winning score has been a serious issue over the last four games with the Roos averaging just 37.5 points per game in that period. Their two main targets inside 50 are Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar and in the last eight quarters of football, they have combined for just one goal. Players such as Mason Wood, Tristan Xerri and Bailey Scott have hit the scoreboard at times but realistically, the Roos forward mix is just not up to AFL standard, especially without Ben Brown.

The Kangaroos midfield has seen a significant shift in recent weeks with Rhyce Shaw opting to get midfield time into younger players such as Luke McDonald, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin. While there have been some promising signs at stages from these younger players, they were badly beat up by the Suns midfield and were smashed in contested ball (-18) and clearances (-16).

North’s injuries cannot be understated and are a big part of why it has struggled so much in recent weeks. Players such as Brown, Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell are all key parts of the North side, while Curtis Taylor and Tarryn Thomas are also in the best 22 and bring some much needed class. 

North Melbourne should be up for the fight and put in a much better performance than last week’s insipid showing but it’s hard to see this game being anything but a percentage-boosting win for the Power.

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