13/04/2024
Brandon Zerk-Thatcher impressed in Port's win over Fremantle. Picture: Matt Sampson/Port Adelaide

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher impressed in Port's win over Fremantle. Picture: Matt Sampson/Port Adelaide

Zak Butters and Hayden Young were the stories of Port Adelaide’s 39-point win over Fremantle in the AAMI Community Series at Alberton Oval, but for different reasons.

Both sides entered the game missing names, with Sam Powell-Pepper absent for Port, while Luke Jackson and Jye Amiss among others not present in South Australia.

Butters exited the game early in the first quarter after rolling his ankle, with the star midfielder precautionarily taken out by coach Ken Hinkley.

For the visiting side, Hayden Young looked similar to a young Nat Fyfe with his run and carry, finishing with 26 touches, seven tackles and eight score involvements.

Port started the game in style, with new recruit Ivan Soldo battling in the ruck before ending up with the ball in the square and converting the first goal.

Yet, Port’s newly put together defence of Aliir Aliir, Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher were all over the place as Michael Walters weaved through many to kick the Dockers’ first.

In an ugly first 10 minutes, both sides missed opportunities and it wasn’t until Sam Switkowski broke the deadlock following an interception that the game had some life.

Freo were winning the clearances and the contested ball, while Port’s defensive transition was less than satisfactory.

A mongrel snap from Willie Rioli however, allowed Todd Marshall to take a terrific contested mark and level the scores.

Despite the poor opening term, Port went in with the lead and a key shining light was the form of Jed McEntee, who appeared to be playing higher up the ground.

Fyfe had 10 touches to quarter-time for the Dockers, while Caleb Serong was sitting pretty on eight.

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Port started to win contested footy in the second term and assumed control of the game.

McEntee, Willie Rioli and Travis Boak all kicked early goals, while Young was doing damage for the Dockers.

New captain Connor Rozee was showing off his tricks with an overhead goal giving his side a 26-point lead.

Yet, Port allowed Fremantle back into the contest with the ever-impressive Young smashing his second major home.

A Ryan Burton turnover allowed SSP recruit Patrick Voss to convert a terrific set shot, and despite their dominance, Port led by just 14 points at the main change.

The Power took complete control of the game in the third quarter, highlighted by Willem Drew’s major in the opening minute of the second half.

However, it was an abundance of missed opportunities for Port, with Rioli, Dixon, Dan Houston. Byrne-Jones and Marshall all going wayward.

Dixon soon began to make his presence felt, and got the best of Freo skipper Alex Pearce for the first time, barraging through opponents allowing Byrne-Jones to convert.

The contests involving the duo allowed the Port crumbers to have a party, with Ollie Wines the beneficiary to open up a 37-point lead.

Dixon eventually goaled after a remarkable centring kick from Boak, and Rioli missed on the three-quarter-time siren meaning Port led by 44 points going into the last break.

The Dockers reset with some fresh faces getting a run, including Bailey Banfield who set up Walters who booted his second.

Young’s impact while thwarted in the third term, was felt again early in the final term, but his shot missed wide.

With both sides starting to take it easy, Rioli added a third with a dribbler from distance.

In a positive for the Dockers, young draftee Cooper Simpson roosted a late one from 50 out.

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