20/04/2024

Travis Boak claims victory in his 350th game. Image: Jack Hudson

A gallant fight back from an undermanned Tigers outfit was not enough to sour Travis Boak's special occasion, with the Port Adelaide legend taking home the win in his 350th game.

Richmond almost spoiled Travis Boak’s 350th party at the MCG this afternoon, but it was Port Adelaide that overcame inaccuracy to take home a 30-point win.

It ensured that Boak was able to celebrate his milestone in style alongside coach Ken Hinkley, who coached his team to a 13.14 (92) to 18.14 (122) victory.

In what was some pre-game drama, debutant Mykelti Lefau was elevated into the starting 22 following the late withdrawal of Maurice Rioli (back).

The 25-year-old stands at 195cm and is an exciting addition to the Tigers’ side – joining the AFL list as a pre-season signing just over a month ago. 

Port Adelaide controlled the game early in all domains, controlling the clearances while also finding uncontested options. 

The Tigers got the better of a capable Blues midfield last week, leading all major metrics, but as their losses mount – including Dion Prestia and Jacob Hopper – they struggled to adjust to the Power’s pressure early. 

The away side once again struggled to convert, but were able to move the ball easily with little to no pressure as the Tigers found themselves playing catch up.

A chain of play involving the debutant saw Rhyan Mansell reply for the home side – despite almost missing from two metres out following a missed snap from close distance in the dying moments last week. 

Due to Port Adelaide’s inaccuracy, Richmond were able to stay in the contest – somehow entering quarter time with only a five-point disadvantage. 

The Power picked up where they left off, drilling the ball down the middle yet struggling to convert. Slowly but surely, Richmond was able to get its hands on the ball and began to chase down the disparity in the possession count – especially in the contested domain

It was Richmond who continued to lead the way in the air, with the top five intercept players on the ground towards the end of the second term all wearing black and yellow. 

This was despite the inside 50 count evening up, too, so it wasn’t due to an inundation in their back half.

Dustin Martin’s elite footy IQ came to the fore, seeing him record seven score involvements at half time as he set his teammates up with his accurate kicking.

It was almost as if a switch had been flicked, and Port Adelaide’s pressure began to lapse in the same way that Richmond’s did early. 

The Tigers doubled the Power’s contested numbers in the second quarter while also finding plenty more inside fifties, leading the metric 15-6 and taking an 11-point lead into the main break. 

As the third quarter got underway, the visitors powered back in front with two quick goals from stalwarts Charlie Dixon and Jeremy Finlayson. 

Charlie Dixon trains alongside Jason Horne-Francis – Image: Jack Hudson/The Inner Sanctum

This came off the back of their ability to once again find space with ease, but only this time, they were able to punish the Tigers with accurate shots on goals.

Rather than over-complicating things, Port Adelaide regained control of uncontested possession and began to lower its eyes, finding easy targets rather than 50-50 contests. 

Lachie Jones was subbed out half way through the third term with a calf concern, replaced by fellow defender Dylan Williams.

The contest became much more exciting as time wore down, with Finlayson providing an instant reply to an impressive Tim Taranto goal from the boundary.

Richmond’s lack of available key defensive talent became obvious, and the blow was almost worsened as James Tresize hobbled off with an ankle concern, although he eventually re-emerged.

Zak Butters had a strong influence on Port Adelaide’s resurgence with 11 score involvements, 29 disposals and a goal up until this point. 

Two late goals against the grain to Liam Baker saw the Power lead by only seven points at three-quarter time, despite dominating the term. 

Three centre bounce clearances to begin the final quarter led to three early goals for the Power, who took the Baker-fuelled wind out of the Tigers’ sails. 

Following this, Richmond’s Sam Banks made way for Judson Clarke, presumably to add run to its now struggling midfield. 

Their pressure increased across the quarter, but it was too little too late for the home side, as Port Adelaide’s clinical first five minutes of the term held them in good stead. 

While the Tigers can be lauded for their intent, the Power finished the game ahead in most major metrics as their tall timber kicked away. 

Leading Richmond by 41 in the uncontested possession count, Port Adelaide were ultimately more composed with ball in hand and were able to find higher quality scoring options.

Jeremy Finlayson’s three-goal haul also saw him reach his 150th career goal, finishing the game on 152. 

IN OR OUT?

In the second quarter, Dylan Grimes was penalised for being out of bounds – following two controversial *not* out of bounds calls so far this round, it seems to be something that the umpires are understandably no longer willing to risk.

SPACE CADETS

While the Tigers are still adjusting to Yze’s changes, they appear to have a problem with giving away space. Time after time Port Adelaide drilled the ball through the middle at a pace reminiscent of a Sunday stroll – an element of Richmond’s game that was ever-present in its matchup with Gold Coast in Opening Round. It worked both ways though at times, with the Power facing similar issues once the Tigers found the ball and began to cause chaos with their own run and carry. 

COACHES CALLS

“There was absolutely no doubt that to celebrate a milestone as great as Travis Boak’s was today, we needed a win,” Ken Hinkley said post-game.

“It would have been hollow for Trav to be our games record holder, a champion of our football club, so committed all the way through the Port Adelaide Football Club to play his 350th game at the MCG … when you care about each other, you don’t have to mention (getting the win) – they all know what Travis means to our footy club,” he added.

He was jovial when asked about their goal kicking improvements, saying he was proud of his team’s efforts in front of the big sticks. 

Hinkley also stated that Jason Horne-Francis should be returning next week – but that it is too early to take the risk.

“It’s a long season,” he said, “maybe I’m learning that a little bit better.” 

Adam Yze remained positive despite remaining unable to find a win. 

“When we do play our best footy in patches, we can take it up to the best teams,” he said. 

“I think if you take three defenders out of any team – there’s some synergy that needs to happen, we’re coming up against a quality side and it’s AFL footy.” 

He lauded the performances of young guns James Tresize and Tom Brown, whilst stating that Jack Ross will get another opportunity to prove his worth in the middle.

“Rossy’s been thrown around .. obviously Jacob Hopper going out gives him the opportunity to go and play inside mid.

“He’ll get an opportunity again next week to do the same thing, so hopefully he just gets better and better.”

Whilst injury has gotten the better of them, Maurice Rioli should get the all clear to play next week.

“It’s all happening, but that’s okay .. if there’s any risk of playing [injured players] we just can’t [play them],” he said.

“Broady should be okay … Hopper probably not.”

WHERE TO NEXT?
Richmond will return to the same place at the same time to take on an undefeated Sydney outfit whilst Port Adelaide heads home to face the Demons under Saturday night lights.

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