Chad Wingard stands in disbelief as Eagles players celebrate. Picture: Sarah Reed
Chad Wingard stands in disbelief as Eagles players celebrate. Picture: Sarah Reed

Eagles’ theft a hammer blow to Port’s finals hopes

FORGET the top four. Port Adelaide have a fight on their hands just to make the finals after another heartbreaking loss to West Coast at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

Nearly a year after being knocked out of the finals by the Eagles in extra-time following an after-the-siren goal from Luke Shuey, Jeremy McGovern repeated the dose at the same venue.

His goal after the siren from 40m completed a miraculous comeback from West Coast, who trailed by 28 points late in the third quarter before winning by four.

McGovern, well held by nine-gamer Aidyn Johnson all night, marked a hurried Scott Lycett kick and cooly slotted the goal after the siren in a result which could cost the Power not only a top-four spot but a finals appearance.

His goal marked the first time the Eagles led all night.

Compounding Port's problems - it has now lost four of its past five games - is three injuries to key players.

Mitch McGovern is swamped after his goal.
Mitch McGovern is swamped after his goal.

Lead ruckman Paddy Ryder (hip), No.1 key forward Charlie Dixon (ankle) and defender Dan Houston (concussion) were all injured in the third quarter, leaving the home side with just one fit player on the bench in the final term.

It battled on bravely but ultimately ran out of gas, conceding 3.3 to 0.2 in the last stanza.

Ryder and Dixon's injuries look to be significant.

Robbie Gray had a chance to win the game for the Power when he marked 45m from goal with 2:35 left but he missed, leaving the door open for Mark LeCras and then McGovern to kick two quick goals to seal a famous win for the Eagles.

Mitch McGovern marks in front of Brad Ebert.
Mitch McGovern marks in front of Brad Ebert.

West Coast, which played without key men Andrew Gaff (suspension) and Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy (injured), has now, remarkably, won all five games it has played against Port at Adelaide Oval.

And the win was its sixth from its past seven games against the Power.

While McGovern was the hero for the Eagles, ruckman Scot Lycett - on Port's recruiting radar - was terrific, Shuey and fellow midfielders Elliot Yeo and Jack Redden stood tall and LeCras was good in attack.

Midfielder Ollie Wines and defenders Tom Jonas and Tom Clurey, who kept Jack Darling goalless, were strong for the Power.

Sam Gray and Paddy Ryder after the siren. Picture: Sarah Reed
Sam Gray and Paddy Ryder after the siren. Picture: Sarah Reed

Port made some big selection calls by dropping two young players it views as being key building blocks for its future in midfielder Sam Powell-Pepper and half-back Riley Bonner.

But it was another young player it brought into the side that helped it get off to a flyer.

Pacy half-forward Johnson - playing just his ninth game and fourth this season - was coach Ken Hinkley's surprise choice to stop the influence of strong-marking Eagles backline playmaker McGovern, who took a gamebreaking 15 marks in last year's elimination final.

At 185cm, Johnson conceded 11cm to McGovern but he took the points in the opening term as the Power set the game up by kicking the opening four goals into a stiff breeze.

Johnson had only one disposal for the quarter but it was a goal while he held McGovern to just three touches and one mark.

And in the third term, Johnson helped break the game open by kicking two quick goals when he broke clear of McGovern to run into open goals.

Charlie Dixon on crutches after the match.
Charlie Dixon on crutches after the match.

When Ryder goaled soon after Port was out to a game-high 28-point lead.

But Cripps and Dom Sheed pulled goals back for West Coast and then Dixon and Houston were carted from the ground, joining Ryder on the sidelines as the Power was left with just one fit man on the bench with 2:53 left to play in the third quarter.

With Port - leading by 15 points - lining up with eight men behind the ball at the start of the last term, the Eagles sent McGovern forward to try to have an impact at the other end of the ground.

He eventually had the final say.

WEST COAST 1.1 3.2 6.5 9.8 (62)

PORT ADELAIDE 5.1 6.2 9.2 9.4 (58)


West Coast: L.Shuey, S.Lycett, E.Yeo, C.Masten, J.Redden, M.LeCras, T.Barrass

Port Adelaide: T.Jonas, O.Wines, T.Clurey, A.Johnson, J.Polec, J.Pittard


West Coast: J.Cripps 3, E.Yeo, C.Masten, D.Sheed, L.Ryan, M.LeCras, J.McGovern

Port Adelaide: A.Johnson 3, R.Gray 2, C.Wingard, C.Dixon, K.Farrell, P.Ryder


West Coast: Nil

Port Adelaide: C.Dixon (ankle), D.Houston (concussion), P.Ryder (hip)

UMPIRES: C. Donlon, R. O'Gorman, S. Meredith.

CROWD: 32,534 at Adelaide Oval.


3. Luke Shuey (WCE)

2. Scott Lycett (WCE)

1. Tom Jonas (PTA)