AFL 2022 Port Adelaide v Gold Coast Suns: All the news and reaction from the 15 round clash

A thrilling win over Gold Coast has kept Port's finals dream alive — and the news only gets better out of Alberton, with several key players on the verge of returning from injury.

Port Adelaide should have Orazio Fantasia available for its clash against Fremantle, and could even have No.1 ruckman Scott Lycett back with the calvary set to return for the huge match against the Dockers.

The Power have kept their slim finals hopes alive after a thrilling two-point win over Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon.

After a 0-5 start the Power are now two wins off a top eight spot, but can’t afford many if any slip-ups on their run home in 2022.

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The Power take on the high-flying Fremantle in Perth on Sunday as they begin their tough finish to the end of the season.

And they could have two huge inclusions for another crunch clash.

Fantasia had 17 disposals and 0.4 in his first full game of the season for the Magpies in the SANFL after off-season knee surgery and then a quad issue as he pushed for a return to action.

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says a number of Power stars are in the cusp of returning from injury. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley says a number of Power stars are in the cusp of returning from injury. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Hinkley said following the win over the Suns that the livewire small forward was right in the mix to take on the Dockers.

“He will be pushing hard I would have though,” Hinkley said.

“Based on what I saw yesterday he was really damaging other than kicking goals.

“He kicked 0.4 and he looked like he should, a class above some of the SANFL footy.”

Fantasia could be joined by Lycett for the clash, after he suffered a shoulder dislocation against Melbourne in Round 4.

Hinkley said if Lycett is passed fit then he wouldn’t need to go through the SANFL first.

“He’s a mature player so we will make the call on what is best for us and what is best for Scott,” Hinkley said.

“He has had a lot of conditioning, the thing when you do your shoulder you are not lacking conditioning when you return.

Sam Powell-Pepper was the hero for the Power. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Sam Powell-Pepper was the hero for the Power. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

“Scott, he won’t mind me saying this he is not the most skilful player we have out there, but he is a really big competitor and that gives us good reason to think about him long and hard.”

Young gun Zak Butters could also be available after he missed the win over the Suns with a medial ligament strain suffered against Sydney the previous week.

“He would say next week, but we will wait and see,” Hinkley said.

Tom Clurey and Darcy Byrne-Jones should also be available again after they missed the win over the Suns because of Covid-19 protocols.

Captain Tom Jonas limped from the field in the fourth quarter after a big collision with Gold Coast’s Izak Rankine, but was able to return to the match.

Hinkley said Jonas “doesn’t get hurt”.

“He is just tough, he plays footy in an unbelievable way and that’s why he’s our captain,” Hinkley said.

Power beast Charlie Dixon roars and flexes after slotting a goal. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Power beast Charlie Dixon roars and flexes after slotting a goal. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Power still connected as finals dream has a pulse

—Jason Phelan

Port Adelaide has refused to let the sun set on its finals dream, the brave Power seeing off a furious challenge by Gold Coast to win a pulsating encounter by two points on Sunday.

It was 11th v 12th on the ladder leading into the clash, which lived up to its billing as a quasi-elimination final in June.

The Power led by just two points when Ben Ainsworth goaled with just over two minutes remaining at Adelaide Oval.

With the ball deep in Gold Coast’s attacking 50 Port defended desperately to hold on for a 13.15 (93) to 13.13 (91) that keeps Ken Hinkley’s men in the finals hunt with a 7-7 record.

“It was a cracking game of football when you can take a breath,” Hinkley said.

“It was two teams who have had pretty good form for a good period of time … this season is remarkable and the match-ups this weekend have proved that.”

Connor Rozee celebrates a goal with teammates Sam Powell-Pepper and Travis Boak at the Adelaide Oval. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Connor Rozee celebrates a goal with teammates Sam Powell-Pepper and Travis Boak at the Adelaide Oval. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

It wasn’t quite a David versus Goliath match-up in the ruck but Jeremy Finlayson faced a huge task against in-form Suns big man Witts, who enjoyed a 12cm and 17kg physical advantage in the head-to-head battle.

Finlayson’s superior mobility when the ball hit the ground served the Power well early, with Mitch Georgiades kicking his first goal in an opening term blitz.

But Witts’ dominance at the stoppages was a key factor in the Suns’ resurgence, with Mabior Chol also proving a handful in attack in the second quarter.

Chol kicked goals either side of the quarter-time break in a run of four unanswered majors that saw the visitors hit the front for the first time 13 minutes into the second term.

Jeremy v Goliath

It wasn’t quite a David versus Goliath match-up in the ruck but Jeremy Finlayson faced a huge task against in-form Suns big man Witts, who enjoyed a 12cm and 17kg physical advantage in the head-to-head battle.

Finlayson’s superior mobility when the ball hit the ground served the Power well early, with Mitch Georgiades kicking his first goal in an opening term blitz.

But Witts’ dominance at the stoppages was a key factor in the Suns’ resurgence, with Mabior Chol also proving a handful in attack in the second quarter.

Chol kicked goals either side of the quarter-time break in a run of four unanswered majors that saw the visitors hit the front for the first time 13 minutes into the second term.

Charlie Dixon brought up his 300th career goal at a crucial time. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Charlie Dixon brought up his 300th career goal at a crucial time. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Charlie’s 300th

The home side held a slender five-point lead at halftime, but Charlie Dixon extended that margin with a perfectly timed milestone goal.

Dixon, who played 65 games and kicked 94 goals for the Suns, struck a blow against his old side from tight against the boundary line out near the 50m arc.

Hemmed in on the wrong side for a left-footer, the burly forward curled in a stunning effort to make his 300th AFL goal one to remember.

Rozee rises

Several acts of desperation inside Port’s attacking 50 allowed the home side to edge ahead after the Suns led midway through an enthralling third quarter.

Rozee provided the polish with back-to-back goals snatching back the lead and helping his side to a 13-point break at the last change.

Gold Coast kept coming after the restart and threatened to steal a famous victory as Chol booted his third.

A brilliant tackle by Sam Powell-Pepper on Miller lifted the Power with just under two minutes left, the home side surviving a shout for a deliberate out-of-bounds by Willem Drew in the dying seconds to deny the visitors one last shot at victory.

Aliir Aliir takes a chest mark. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Aliir Aliir takes a chest mark. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Brandon Ellis celebrates a goal. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images
Brandon Ellis celebrates a goal. Picture: Mark Brake/Getty Images

SCOREBOARD

POWER 5.4 6.8 12.11 13.15 (93)

SUNS 2.4 5.9 10.10 13.13 (91)

PHELAN’S BEST

Power: Wines, Rozee, Houston, Marshall, Bonner, Amon.

Suns: Miller, Witts, Ainsworth, Rankine, Swallow, Chol.

GOALS

Power: Marshall 4, Georgiades 2, Rozee 2, Dixon, Duursma, Farrell, Finlayson, Jones.

Suns: Rankine 3, Chol 3, Casboult 2, Ellis 2, Holman, Ainsworth, Rosas.

INJURIES

Power: Nil.

Suns: Nil.

UMPIRES

Harris, Fleer, Pell.

VENUE

Adelaide Oval

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

JASON PHELAN’S VOTES

3 Wines (Port)

2 Miller (GC)

1 Rozee (Port)

Power forced to swing Covid change

—Matt Turner

Port Adelaide has been forced to make another Covid-related change to its defence for Sunday’s home game against Gold Coast after ruling out Darcy Byrne-Jones.

Byrne-Jones was named in the Power’s 25-man squad on Thursday night but entered protocols on Friday, joining fellow backman Tom Clurey.

While veteran Trent McKenzie will replace Clurey, Port Adelaide is likely to use Dan Houston at halfback to cover for Byrne-Jones.

Jeremy Finlayson will again be the Power’s main ruckman, keeping fifth-year giant Sam Hayes out of the side for a third consecutive week.

Finlayson’s follow-up efforts, mobility around the ground, capacity to be dangerous in attack, ability as a quasi midfielder and performances in the role so far give Port Adelaide faith he is the right option to battle Suns giant Jarrod Witts.

Darcy Byrne-Jones has been ruled out for Port Adelaide. Picture: Getty Images
Darcy Byrne-Jones has been ruled out for Port Adelaide. Picture: Getty Images

For Hayes, his follow-up work, helping the team’s defence and consistency are areas of improvement.

“It’s been pretty simple for us that we’ve been getting the results that we need to get and want to get with the current structure that we’ve been using,” Hinkley said.

“The support around ground level has been important to us.

“Sam’s a really good, young ruckman who’s got clarity exactly on what he is trying to work on.

“Until he can get those things at a level that we need them at, he’ll continue to develop as a young ruckman, which we’re excited about.”

Hinkley said Hayes was disappointed but understanding.

“He’s working incredibly hard to make some ground,” he said.

Hinkley said it was too early to know if midfielder Zak Butters would return next week or the following one from a medial ligament injury.

“We’re reasonably optimistic it shouldn’t be too long,” he said.

There also was no timeline on the return of veteran Robbie Gray, who was left out of the side last round for conditioning purposes.

The four-time All-Australian had battled a knee issue and not trained for 10 weeks.

“We’ve got to be a little bit patient and Rob’s also got to be a little bit patient because I know how much he wants to play,” Hinkley said.

Sam Mayes replaced Byrne-Jones in the extended squad.

Hinkley said father-son draftees Jase Burgoyne and Taj Schofield, who were both named in the 25, were close to debuting.

Jeremy Finlayson has more than held his own in the ruck. Picture: Getty Images
Jeremy Finlayson has more than held his own in the ruck. Picture: Getty Images

Young ruck on nose as Port goes makeshift against suns’ star

—Matt Turner

Port Adelaide has again overlooked Sam Hayes and will rely on its key forwards to ruck – this time against Gold Coast’s All-Australian contender Jarrod Witts.

The Power will face the Suns at home on Sunday with Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon tasked with taking on Witts, a fortnight after the Port Adelaide duo’s battle with Richmond pair Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo.

Although he would have been a like-for-like replacement for the injured Brynn Teakle, Hayes was named in the SANFL for a third consecutive week.

First-choice ruckman Scott Lycett remains another three weeks away from being available from a shoulder injury.

The Power won the clearances against Richmond despite fielding its makeshift ruck combination and Finlayson impressed last week off after Teakle went off with a broken collarbone on debut.

Young ruckman Sam Hayes hasn’t been able to break back into the Power line up. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Young ruckman Sam Hayes hasn’t been able to break back into the Power line up. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

But Witts, who is 13cm and 18kg bigger than the ex-GWS forward, looms as a much tougher test as one of the competition’s best ruckmen.

Teakle is one of three outs for the Power, along with midfielder Zak Butters (knee) and key defender Tom Clurey (Covid).

Star Travis Boak returns from coronavirus protocols, while likely Clurey replacement Trent McKenzie is in line to play his first AFL game since round 3.

They were among six inclusions named in the 25-man squad, along with untried father-son draftees Jase Burgoyne and Taj Schofield, veteran Steven Motlop and halfback Miles Bergman.

Suns’ star Jarrod Witts is among the game’s finest ruckmen. Picture: Getty Images
Suns’ star Jarrod Witts is among the game’s finest ruckmen. Picture: Getty Images

Second-year forward Riley Thilthorpe will miss Adelaide’s trip to Hobart to face North Melbourne on Sunday after not recovering from his ankle injury.

Thilthorpe, who was substituted during last week’s loss to Gold Coast, avoided structural damage but did not train with the main group on Wednesday.

He is the Crows’ only out and there are five additions.

Tall forward Elliott Himmelberg, on-baller Harry Schoenberg, halfback Chayce Jones, utility Mitch Hinge and goalsneak Lachlan Murphy were chosen in Adelaide’s 25-man squad.

Schoenberg (team-high 27 disposals) and Jones (21 touches, five clearances, seven tackles) played well in the SANFL last weekend, while Hinge was unlucky to be dropped for the Gold Coast game.

Big forward Charlie Dixon will share Port’s ruck load. Picture: Getty Images
Big forward Charlie Dixon will share Port’s ruck load. Picture: Getty Images

Murphy was the medical substitute against the Suns and came on for Thilthorpe.

The ankle injury continues an up-and-down season for Thilthorpe, the 2020 No. 2 draft pick, who has played five AFL matches in 2022 and had spells in the SANFL, as well as battling Covid and a knee issue.

Both SA clubs will trim three players from their squads on Friday afternoon.

Injuries leave Port with big ruck conundrum

Jeremy Finlayson, Sam Hayes or Dante Visentini.

They are the ruck options Port Adelaide’s match committee will debate for Sunday’s home match against Gold Coast and All-Australian contender Jarrod Witts.

Brynn Teakle’s injury on debut in the win over Sydney puts the spotlight on Port Adelaide’s big men again, as Scott Lycett prepares for another three weeks on the sidelines.

Sam Hayes could be recalled for ruck duties to cover the shortage in the big man department. Picture: Getty Images
Sam Hayes could be recalled for ruck duties to cover the shortage in the big man department. Picture: Getty Images

Forwards Finlayson and Charlie Dixon shared the responsibility against Richmond ruck duo Toby Nankervis and Ivan Soldo a fortnight ago, and the Power won the clearances.

Teakle was brought into the team against Sydney, only to break his collarbone during the second quarter, which left Finlayson to battle ex-Power player Peter Ladhams.

Hayes was overlooked for both matches, while first-year big man Visentini was yet to debut at AFL level.

Jeremy Finlayson has been impressive in the ruck for the Power. Picture: Getty Images
Jeremy Finlayson has been impressive in the ruck for the Power. Picture: Getty Images

When asked who he would select to lead the ruck against Witts, Lycett sat on the fence.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for whoever goes in there,” said Lycett, who dislocated his right shoulder against Melbourne in round 4.

“Wittsy is one of the best ruckmen in the comp, probably second to Maxy (Gawn) this year.

“It just depends on what the coaches are after.

“Jez has done a really good job for us (and) Dicko is hard to move and such a big man.

“That (combination) worked for us against Richmond but Wittsy is a whole new kettle of fish – he’s taller and in really good form.”

Hayes, whom the Power drafted with pick 47 in 2017, had to wait more than four seasons before debuting against Carlton in round 5 this season.

The 23-year-old, 205cm giant featured in seven successive matches — five wins, two losses — then was omitted for the Tigers’ clash.

Hayes’s follow-up work around the ground and consistency each week were his main areas to improve.

“I liked what I saw from him in the SANFL on the weekend so he’s definitely put his hand in the ring,” Lycett said.

Dante Visentini has shown some real grunt on the training track at Alberton.
Dante Visentini has shown some real grunt on the training track at Alberton.

Lycett said he liked Visentini’s “white-line fever” aggression.

“He’s really quiet off field, respectful, really nice guy, but attacks training really hard and I really like what I’ve seen from him in the SANFL so far,” he said of the 19-year-old.

As for Teakle, who joined the Power from East Fremantle 17 days before playing his first AFL game, Lycett called the West Australian an awesome story.

“I actually think we’d work pretty well in the team together so hopefully we can both get fit and healthy soon,” he said.

Lycett has helped organise a ruck dinner steak night for this Thursday, inviting everyone who has registered a hitout this season, along with coaches Matt Lobbe, Dean Brogan and Justin Westhoff.

Along with big men, the group also includes midfielder Ollie Wines and forward Sam Powell-Pepper.

Lycett joked he would have a few words to Wines after the Brownlow Medallist said he thought mobile talls like Finlayson becoming ruckmen might be coming more into vogue.

‘More rough stuff’: Tribunal called out for being too harsh

Port Adelaide star Ollie Wines says the AFL tribunal has been too strict in handing out punishments this season.

Wines described the punch to the stomach he received from former teammate Peter Ladhams as a “love tap” and said the one-game striking suspension he copped was a bit harsh.

“I’d love to be able to get away with a bit more,” Wines said.

“I think it’s all adjudicated and the tribunal and everything probably goes a little bit over the top.

“I think there’s still room in footy for a bit of rough and tough, and a bit of bravado stuff.

“I’d like to think most people know when the line’s crossed.”

Ollie Wines handpasses the ball to Jackson Mead with Luke Parker in hot pursuit. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Ollie Wines handpasses the ball to Jackson Mead with Luke Parker in hot pursuit. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Ladhams, who was traded from the Power to Sydney in October, accepted his ban on Monday – two days after hitting the Brownlow Medallist in the stomach at Adelaide Oval during the third quarter of the Swans’ loss.

Wines did not know about the ruckman’s penalty until a press conference on Tuesday.

“That’s a bit stiff (to get a week-long ban),” Wines said.

“It wasn’t a real hard hit, it was a bit of a love tap.

“It was a bit of a brain lapse by Pete and if he had his opportunity again, he wouldn’t do it.”

Ollie Wines and Peter Ladhams go at it on Saturday. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Ollie Wines and Peter Ladhams go at it on Saturday. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Ollie Wines handpasses the ball over Swan Tom Papley. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images
Ollie Wines handpasses the ball over Swan Tom Papley. Picture: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Wines spoke with Ladhams after the game but during it he and his Power teammates ignored him.

“When you know how Pisty works … we weren’t talking to him too much and I think it was frustrating him a little bit,” he said.

“That’s how he plays, he plays on the edge.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“We got the last laugh in the end.”

Wines was one of the Power’s best on Saturday, registering a game-high 34 disposals, as well as 10 clearances.

The Port Adelaide vice-captain speaks after the win over Sydney. Picture: Tom Huntley
The Port Adelaide vice-captain speaks after the win over Sydney. Picture: Tom Huntley

He said he had been frustrated by his own form this season, as he carried the weight of personal expectation since last year’s Brownlow win.

“It’s so prestigious, you want to uphold that standard for the rest of your career,” he said.

“Sometimes that’s not possible but you can aspire to reach that level with whatever you do.

“It is a bit hard when you do set a standard like that last year, I don’t worry about (what is said) externally, but internally and what I’m able to do for the team.

“I think I have been a little bit down (on form).

“I’ll keep working at it and hopefully be able you continue that form.”

With the Power still in the finals mix with a 6-7 record, Wines was excited for the remainder of the season.

“I do generally really like back halves of the year,” he said.

“The speed comes out of the game and I am able to thrive a little but more.”

As part of the AFL’s Kids Go Free Month initiative, children will get in for nothing against Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

“Hopefully we can fill the crowd and build some momentum in what is a really important game for us,” Wines said.

Originally published as AFL 2022 Port Adelaide v Gold Coast Suns: All the news and reaction from the 15 round clash

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