Port ready to ignite the Power against a disappointing Bombers
By Jack Kovacic

Port Adelaide will be looking for its fourth win in a row on Saturday afternoon when it takes on Essendon.

After taking down the reigning premier Richmond in what many labelled the game of the year, Port then were smashed by the Cats the next game. Up next were three matches against three of the bottom four sides on the ladder, which you’d expect to mean three wins for the top side.

Well, that’s exactly what happened as the Power strengthened their position on top of the ladder with a 36-point win over North Melbourne last Saturday, coming after wins over Sydney (26-points) and Hawthorn (10-points) in the previous weeks.

Port’s win over the Roos was a pretty routine win with runs of four consecutive goals coming in the first and third quarters. Up against a much younger and less physical midfield, Port’s inside bulls had a field day. Travis Boak (34 disposals, nine clearances, seven inside 50’s and a goal) sealed another three Brownlow votes while Tom Rockliff (30 disposals and nine tackles) and Ollie Wines (30 disposals, seven clearances, five inside 50’s and two goals) were also at their best.

Second year player Zak Butters continued has great season with another 17 disposals, six score involvements and a goal, but a late hit on North’s Jy Simpkin came under scrutiny by the MRO. Butters’ late bump left Simpkin concussed and the youngster will now have to serve a two-game suspension, ruling him out until finals.

Defender Ryan Burton’s horror injury run continued when he strained a quad in the first term. Ken Hinkley will be forced to make two changes with Boyd Woodcock the likely replacement for Butters, and Sam Mayes, Ryan Bonner or Joel Garner the most likely to come in for Burton.

Essendon will be coming into the clash will almost the opposite form line to the Power, suffering two disappointing losses in its last two outings. They were gallant against West Coast (15-point defeat) but smashed by Geelong by 11 goals last Sunday.

The Bombers finals chances are now gone but they will still want to put in a far better performance than what they showed against the Cats. One of its biggest problem areas was the midfield, with the Bombers midfield mix of Darcy Parish, Dyson Heppel, Zach Merret and Dylan Shiel just not able to match it against the Cats’ bigger bodies.

Port’s midfield will be licking its lips and eyeing a similar result to last week’s midfield battle against the Roos. The Power were +10 in contested possession, +15 in clearances and +6 in inside 50 while in the Bombers match against Geelong, they were -13 in contested possession, -9 in clearances and -15 in inside 50’s.

If the Bombers can equalise the midfield, they will then have to take their chances inside 50 if they are going to upset the ladder leader. Despite a poor game last week, Anthony McDonald-Tippingwuti had been in good form kicking eight goals in his previous three games.

Spearhead Joe Daniher could return after being ‘managed’ out of last week’s game and would a welcome return to a Bombers team that kicked just five goals against the Cats.

On paper, Port Adelaide look to have the better line-up and should be winning this game reasonably comfortably. At their best the Bombers can certainly trouble the Power and have the quality on their day to cause an upset, but the way they waved the white flag against the Cats last week is worrying.

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