Cross-town pride is the headline of Saturday night’s feature game heading into Round 8 of the 2019 AFL men’s season, but Adelaide and Port Adelaide will be playing for far more than simply local bragging rights.
For the Crows, this Showdown represents a chance to consolidate the hot form that totally contradicts a rather lukewarm start to 2019, during which their premiership credentials were questioned and their forward line noticeably tweaked with the omission of regular starter Josh Jenkins.
The Power, however, may have been found out against a stronger competitor in a sound defeat against Collingwood and have been resigned to a spot immediately below their rivals in a logjam at 4-3.
Jesse Robertson is on hand to preview the 46th edition of the famous rivalry as this week’s Featured Game:
The Season So Far
Adelaide approach this week’s fixture on a three-game winning streak, ‘highlighted’ by a dour 17-point victory over Fremantle in a scrappy affair. A forward line once lauded nationwide for its potency has instead come under fire itself as they have mustered up 100 points or more just once in their seven games. They’ve subsequently languished in mid-table for most of their run and this is reflected by their placement in several attacking stats, most notably ranking only 12th for inside-50’s. Sam Jacobs is still out injured but deputy ruck Reilly O’Brien has been competitive in his first games since 2016, helping Adelaide remain in a steady 8th for hitouts.
Port Adelaide’s form has been inconsistent in 2019, registering two wins to start the campaign, followed by two losses and another pair of wins then leading into a lacklustre 39-point loss in Melbourne last Friday night. Ken Hinkley’s men have soldiered on to rank fourth for marks inside 50 despite losing tall targets Charlie Dixon, Jack Watts and more recently superstar Robbie Gray to injury. The latter’s ability will be especially missed when considering his influence on the past two Showdowns, top scoring with a combined ten goals between the two thrillers last season.
Port Adelaide will be favoured in the middle out of the ruck ranking second for centre clearances per game, compared with the Crows who sit second-last and will desperately need to assert themselves early with the likes of O’Brien, whose work around the ground has been rewarded with needing to step up a higher gear around stoppages against imposing former All-Australian Paddy Ryder.
Additionally, former Power skipper Travis Boak is one of the group of seven to have earned a century of contested possessions in the first seven rounds but Adelaide’s Rory Sloane is one of a further six who are less than ten away from the same milestone, making the likely battle between two of the game’s elite a truly compelling midfield duel.
A depleted Power forward line has still presented a more powerful threat than their highly-touted counterparts but their trio of first-round draftees have acquitted themselves nicely into Port’s best 22, but the experienced heads will ultimately influence the Showdown as Boak, Westhoff and Ryder go head-to-head with Sloane, Walker and Talia.
Port Adelaide by 8 points in another nail-biter.