I don’t want to sound hyperbolic or exaggerate, but that Port Adelaide player — No. 6 — has got to be the most endangered, it seems — in any football club this season.
On Tuesday night he did himself no favours, running into the anger, harrumphing and brawling of an opposition player at the crucial moment of a match between St Kilda and Sydney. A fade-out of the ball at centre bounces from St Kilda forward Taylor Walker gave Leigh Montagna a kick into the corner for his first goals of the season.Photo gallery AFL Frisco cup
The paint seeping from his own face gives every impression that he’s already face-planting on his own again.
Sure, the red-and-black was surprisingly thoroughly outgunned by the Saints, who’d taken the game by 19 points at half-time. But, we reckon, Cronulla-like, it was St Kilda’s coming of age, taking the game to the increasingly desperate Dons.Here’s why Sydney is the pick:
We’ve had a lovely year so far. The Saints were nothing like last year, but we gave them a run for their money. With 6.9 per game, we were 1.1 percentage points adrift of them.
We finished the season in last place, 20 points adrift at that, with a game-spinning loss to Geelong.
And we’re about to have the week after the Sydney showdown come again, when Dons’ Michael Firrito is suspended for a rare high-high bump in last week’s defeat to Geelong.
The Dons ran the balance of a hard-fought game into their own forward line this year, regularly pushing the winner into play early and mid-foot and into the heart of their attacking side. All this despite getting 40 shots on goal in that defeat.
Instead, they found themselves outgunned by the superior Saints, who possess the likes of Steve Johnson, Matt Rosa and Jimmy Toumpas in their forward line. The Saints were able to make as many as eight kicks from round five. They beat us by nine points at the same point, despite working hard and playing with a bit more patience and intensity in attack.
The Lonsons are without Scott Watters and James Sicily and are being bullied defensively. We’re operating in a different, vastly improved league.
But we’ve got an awesome match-up with the Demons, who took the game to us for most of the second half. We’ve got Ben Brown, Nick Riewoldt, Michael Jamison and Rhys Stanley, who can add real valuable experience. And then there’s Jake Carlisle. It’s also been the case that Dons’ games have not won the challenges of their strong midfield, which is in a winnable territory, and Melbourne got a bit lucky.
We don’t have a really great line-up going forward — we don’t have our best contested ball, and are nowhere near the value we once were as players. And our forwards are so in the development stages it will be interesting to see if they improve, even if we need to continue to make positional decisions on how many attacks to make.
Still, Melbourne were so strong to start the year. As much as they’ve struggled against the Lons, if their midfield ever can play the way we think they can, we’re in for a whale of a year.