By ZAC MILBANK
Port Adelaide powered to a 42-point win against North Adelaide at Prospect on the back of a stunning individual performance from ball magnet Tom Rockliff.
Making his return from a hamstring strain which had sidelined him since May 25, the former Brisbane Lions captain finished with 57 disposals, seven marks, 14 clearances and 12 tackles as he thrived in the treacherous conditions.
The star inside midfielder had 25 touches by the main change but showed no signs of slowing as he gained valuable match fitness in his pursuit of an AFL recall to Power ranks.
”A lot of it was uncontested so he might need to balance that out a bit more in the future,” Port team-mate Patrick Ryder said with a laugh on Channel 7 after the match.
Ryder, playing in his first Statewide Super League match, was also influential as he had 34 hit outs and booted two classy goals, the second coming within a bank of four in succession as the Magpies took control of the match during the third quarter.
Veteran Justin Westhoff, appearing in SANFL ranks for the first time since 2010, was only overshadowed by Rockliff as he chalked up 37 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and three goals in a confidence-boosting display.
Westhoff was very clean in the slippery weather, taking a lovely overhead mark before booting his second major on the stroke of half-time.
Sam Powell-Pepper bustled his way to 33 possessions while Jarrod Lienert (28 disposals) was classy in defence while also streaking forward for a trademark long bomb goal from beyond 50m.
North got within six points of the visitors when Lewis Hender booted the second of this three majors 23 minutes into the second stanza.
But the injury-hit Roosters were unable to keep pace with the star-studded Magpies as the game wore on.
Hender produced arguably his best performance of the year to collect 22 disposals and lay six tackles to go with his scoreboard contribution while former Power bigman Mitch Harvey had 23 disposals and five clearances.
North’s Aidan Tropiano led the way in the centre square to tally 29 possessions, six marks, seven tackles and seven clearances for the hosts, who also had Lee Minervini reach 17 disposals in his first Statewide Super League game since Round 17, 2017.
PORT 2.3 6.4 10.5 13.6 (84)
NORTH 2.3 4.4 4.5 6.6 (42)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Port: Rockliff 57, Westhoff 37, Powell-Pepper 33, Lienert 28, Atley 27, Mayes 25, McKenzie 23, Frederick 20, Woodcock 19.
North: Tropiano 29, Harvey 23, Hender 22, Allmond 20, Spina 19, T. Schwarz, Thring 18.
GOALS – Port: Westhoff 3, Johnson, Ryder 2, Frampton, Hayes, Lienert, Marshall, McKenzie, Woodcock.
North: Hender 3, Laurie, T. Schwarz, Spina.
Adelaide hung tough to edge ahead of Sturt by 21 points at a rain-soaked Peter Motley Oval.
Leading the Double Blues by just one point at the final change, the Crows made their move in the final term as RAA Rookie Jy Farrer stepped up to boot the final two goals of the game for the visitors.
Originally from Western Australia, Farrer – who has played nine games for Scotch Old Collegians this year – made the most of his opportunities in his League debut on the goalline midway through the fourth quarter.
Adelaide veteran David Mackay positioned himself perfectly to mark an errant clearing kick from the Sturt defence before kicking his set shot from 40m in front.
It gave the Crows a pivotal seven-point lead six minutes after three-quarter time in a match which barely saw the margin creep into double-figures all afternoon.
Then Farrer sprang to life with two goals in three minutes to put the game beyond reach of the Double Blues.
The 22-year-old pounced on the loose ball to soccer off the ground from 10m on a slight angle for his first before making the most of a strong clearance from consistent Crows midfielder Pat Wilson to scrounge through his second.
It was a devastating period of play for the Double Blues, who didn’t deserve to lose by such a significant margin after working tirelessly in front of their hardy faithful.
But ultimately, straight forward set shot misses to Jake Sutcliffe, Zane Kirkwood, Aidan Riley and Jack Penfold throughout the afternoon came back to haunt Nathan Grima’s charges.
Sam Colquhoun worked hard to be Sturt’s leading disposal winner while also having 11 tackles and 10 clearances while Riley, Kirkwood, Danyle Pearce and James Battersby all tried hard in the midfield.
Big-bodied Wilson was best for the Crows, using his sizeable frame to his advantage in the wet conditions to rack up 24 disposals and a staggering 22 tackles.
Veteran Andy Otten marshalled the defence with 24 touches while captain Matt Wright converted his opening set shot for a goal in the first term en route to 23 possessions.
ADELAIDE 1.3 2.5 3.6 6.8 (44)
STURT 0.3 2.4 3.5 3.5 (23)
LEADING DISPOSALS – Adelaide: Otten, Wilson 24, Wright 23, Jones, Mackay 19, Hunter, Latchford, Sholl 13.
Sturt: Colquhoun 25, Battersby, Kirkwood, Pearce, Riley 20, Crocker 19, F. Evans 17, Greenslade 15.
GOALS – Adelaide: Farrer, McAdam 2, Mackay, Wright.
Sturt: J. Hone, Sutcliffe, Penfold.