PORT Melbourne reaffirmed its premiership aspirations and surged to third position on the ladder after a smothering 69-point victory over old rival Williamstown at North Port Oval.
Port entered Saturday’s clash with an indifferent month of form but the grinding conditions provided them with the ideal opportunity to lay strong defensive foundations for the finals.
And they did exactly that, writes Michael Collins.
In wet and bitter conditions, Williamstown recorded its lowest score of the season, kicking just two goals for the match – both in the first term.
The Borough’s emphatic suffocation of the Seagulls was headlined by their ruthless intensity around the contest and an even spread of goal kickers with Julian Rowe and Danny Hughes contributing three goals each.
The opening 10 minutes were played mainly in Williamstown’s forward half as Seagulls Captain Ben Jolley (30 disposals) led from the front with strong contested work and tackling. Yet, after conceding two of the first three goals, Port Melbourne slowly gained the ascendency and ensured they only trailed by two points at quarter time.
After the first quarter promised a dogged arm wrestle, Port’s Chris Cain’s contested clearance work (26 disposals) and Shane Valenti’s efficiency (21 disposals) separated the two old rivals in the second term.
The Borough kicked three goals and gained a 17-point lead at halftime. In a predictably scrappy affair, Sam Pleming was the calming architect across halfback as he continually found himself at the drop of the ball.
After halftime Williamstown struggled to match Port’s second efforts and hunger. A goal to Rowe that resulted from Dean Galea’s lunging second effort smother at half forward, typified the Borough’s frantic pursuit for the ball.
No rivalry is genuine without a few ‘choice’ words exchanged. Trailing by 42-points at three-quarter time, Williamstown showed their frustrations as some needless ‘push and shove’ developed on the center wing at the final break.
Unfortunately, the Seagulls’ goalless effort since quarter time continued until the final siren, as they could not counter Port’s pressure during the contest.
Tom Campbell’s ruck duel with Port’s Wayde Skipper was one of the few highlights for Williamstown as he showed great competitiveness against one of the league’s prime moving ruckman.
Next Saturday, Port Melbourne will look to continue its momentum against finals contender Box Hill Hawks, while Williamstown can regroup at the comfort of its home ground against Frankston.