Where and When: MCG, Thursday, March 23, 2019, 1:45pm
Last time they met: Adelaide Oval, round 14, 2018: Port Adelaide 11.9 (75) defeated Melbourne 9.11 (65)
Doubts were raised about Melbourne’s finals credentials after it lost its second game on the trot after a run of six previous wins. In a brutal game, the Power gained the ascendancy late in the last quarter thanks to a Sam Gray goal. Despite leading for most of the night, Melbourne’s inefficiency going into attack was highlighted. It became a theme for Simon Goodwin’s side as the year progressed.
What it means for Melbourne: With games to come against Geelong, Essendon and Sydney, starting the season off on a winning note is important. The Demons are one of the legitimate premiership contenders, so if they can flex their muscles early, they will gain great confidence to roll into the rest of the season.
What it means for Port Adelaide: After undergoing a list redevelopment in the off-season, the Power will expose a number of youngsters to the AFL stage. Despite Ollie Wines missing, the Power still have plenty of playmakers on their team and could cause an upset.
How Melbourne wins: Melbourne was the No.1 centre clearance team in the AFL and by a wide margin in 2018, so Max Gawn and co will again be critical in that part of the ground. The Demons’ focus on playing “forward-half football” is borne out of their midfield dominance.
How Port Adelaide wins: Limit Gawn’s influence with Scott Lycett and Paddy Ryder and force Melbourne to defend fast ball movement. The Demons gave up an average of 108.5 points in their two JLT Series games, which goes to show how leaky they can be particularly without the suspended Steven May.
The stat: Port Adelaide has beaten Melbourne just twice in 10 meetings between the sides at the MCG.
The match-up: Max Gawn v Scott Lycett/Paddy Ryder
Gawn is the seventh-ranked player in the competition after a superb 2018 campaign. Ryder is 14th while Lycett is 249th, although that rating does not reflect his influence on games late last season.
Mottsy’s Tip: Dees by 30
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