Port One Step Closer
Port Melbourne has advanced to the Peter Jackson VFL Grand Final for the second consecutive year after overcoming gallant rivals Williamstown in the final quarter by 34-points. Brendan Lucas reports.
The Seagulls were coming off the back of eight successive wins and were eager to make their mark.
But it was the Borough who asserted their dominance - midfield combatants John Baird (31 disposals), Shane Valenti (27), Mitch Woffindin (27) and Toby Pinwill (27) leading the way.
Players, coaches and spectators paid tribute through a minute’s silence to the recent tragic passing of Collingwood and Port Adelaide footballer John McCarthy’s – as his cousin Myles Pitt wore his number 35 as a mark of respect.
Finals intensity lacked in the first term for the Seagulls who quickly bounced back after coach Peter German labelled the effort as “not good enough.”
A few heavy hits and aggressive tackling set the scene for the second term with two early goals from the Seagulls tying the scores at the four-minute mark.
In a seesaw affair scores drew level again at the 13-minute mark as relentless Seagulls forward pressure gifted Stephen McCallum a goal.
Heading into the second half the Borough were carrying a 12-point lead and drew Seagull blood first as 100-gamer Adrian Bonaddio delivered to Dean Galea for a goal.
Scores from stoppages continued to pose a problem for the Seagulls as inexperience began to show.
But the Seagulls continued to rise to the challenge despite their deficiencies. Fletcher Roberts finished with three and youngster Jack Charleston showed composure in defence.
However a costly over-step of the white line from full-back undid the Seagulls’ good work as the Borough extended their lead to 16-points at the final break.
Port coach Gary Ayres was feeling the emotion in the huddle urging his troops to not let themselves down, show nerve and take the game on.
A dangerous head-high hit to open the last on Borough Michael Dillon sent tempers flaring through both sides.
Adrian Bonaddio began his quest to kick his elusive first goal of the game at the 8-minute mark. He finally managed to kick a major on his third attempt at the 12-minute mark.
It was all one-way traffic for the rest of the quarter. Borough run and crowd involvement spurred on Stephen Brewer who put the icing on the cake at the 20-minute mark to register the win.
Reflecting on the victory coach Gary Ayres believes his side’s hunger to win had grown over the last few weeks.
“Well we have definitely improved our appetite for the contest there is no doubt about that. These guys are always challenged by the coaching staff themselves and they demand a lot from each other and that is why they are as good a they are,” he said.
Ayres said a number of players who missed out on last year’s grand final could get a game, including Marc Johnston, Adam Bentick, Adrian Bonaddio and Myles Pitt.
Port Melbourne will battle it out against rivals Geelong this Sunday at Etihad Stadium for the 2012 Peter Jackson VFL premiership.