In what has turned into a blockbuster round for finals-bound teams, the heat will be on in Darwin as a goal-fest looms between Melbourne and Port Adelaide.
While the clash between the 15th and 16th placed teams may not look like much on paper in comparison to the other top eight shaping clashes in round 17, these sides have met in the top end twice before; with Melbourne taking the honours in two close high scoring games – 111 to 110 in 2010 and 113 to 92 in 2011.
Both sides will fancy their chances in this game, after each recovered from poor round 15 showings with more spirited efforts last week – until the fourth quarter time that is. Both the Dees and Port lead their respective encounters against much more fancied opponents in the third quarter, yet each were overrun and held goalless in the last term, Melbourne conceding nine goals against Fremantle, while the Bombers kicked eight against Port.
Melbourne has won three of the past five encounters against Port Adelaide, but the most recent clash saw Port win the historic one-off Adelaide Oval round 24 encounter 112 to 104.
The Dees have lost three for the game with injury, most notably big man Mark Jamar, joining him on the injured list is Jamie Bennell and Jordie McKenzie, while Matthew Bate is omitted. Coming in is back up ruckman Jake Spencer, Lynden Dunn, Neville Jetta and James Magner.
Port will be greatly bolstered by the return of their captain Dominic Cassisi, with Jasper Pittard coming in for Jarrad Redden and Darren Pfieffer.
Stefan Martin and Jake Spencer vs Jarrad Redden and Matthew Lobe – Both sides are without first choice ruckmen with the injuries to Jamar and Renouf, so the second stringers have a chance to prove themself in the middle, in a game where clean possessions will be at a premium in the sticky Darwin heat.
Colin Sylvia vs Travis Boak– Airport meetings, untoward advances, being courted by a range of suitors: it sounds like the plot of a Mills and Boon novel, but it’s been a reality for out-of-contract Boak of late, who will be hoping to put those distractions aside and put in a big game.
Brad Green vs Paul Stewart – Green returned from his VFL exile with a strong three-goal effort against the Dockers and looks the most dangerous in the Dees forward line.
While the Demons have the form against Port at this venue, the inclusion of Cassisi and the loss of Jamar should just tip the balance to the Power – who are still a mathematical chance of playing finals (for those with very optimistic calculators) – in what shall most likely be the less-tense and most free-flowing game of the round.
Port by 13
B: Daniel Nicholson, James Frawley, Colin Garland
HB: Joel Macdonald, Tom McDonald, Jack Grimes
C: Rohan Bail, Colin Sylvia, Sam Blease
HF: Ricky Petterd, Stefan Martin, Jeremy Howe
F: James Magner, Jared Rivers, Brad Green
Foll: Jake Spencer, Jack Trengove, Nathan Jones
I/C: Lynden Dunn, James Strauss, Neville Jetta, Thomas Couch
Emg: Matthew Bate, Jordan Gysberts, James Sellar
In: Lynden Dunn, Jake Spencer, Neville Jetta, James Magner
Out: Matthew Bate, Mark Jamar (calf), Jamie Bennell (knee), Jordie McKenzie (groin)
B: Paul Stewart, Alipate Carlile, Jackson Trengove
HB: Domenic Cassisi, Troy Chaplin, Tom Logan
C: Kane Cornes, Travis Boak, Matthew Broadbent
HF: Danyle Pearce, Justin Westhoff, Andrew Moore
F: Brett Ebert, Daniel Stewart, John McCarthy
Foll: Matthew Lobbe, Bradley Ebert, Matt Thomas
I/C: Jasper Pittard, Aaron Young, Thomas Jonas, Chad Wingard
Emg: David Rodan, Brent Renouf, Darren Pfeiffer
In: Domenic Cassisi, Jasper Pittard
Out: Jarrad Redden, Darren Pfeiffer