First-gamer shines as Power stuns Swans
THERE are those who look overawed when making their AFL debuts, and then there are those who look like naturals.
Port Adelaide's Sam Powell-Pepper was certainly the latter.
The first-gamer made a brilliant debut in the Power's stunning round one upset win over the Sydney Swans, recording 19 disposals and kicking two goals. It was nearly three majors if not for a replay overturning a brilliant banana which was just touched.
According to Champion Data's player ratings system, Powell-Pepper was one of Port Adelaide's best five players on the ground.
He slotted straight into a side that looked nothing like the disappointing group which hasn't played finals in recent seasons despite high expectations.
And up against the Swans, who they've lost to in 13 of their last 14 meetings, it was especially impressive. Port Adelaide won the clearances (47-40) and contested possessions (161-139) against a star-studded opposing line-up.
"He's built like a 25-year-old, he's built like Ollie Wines," Fox Footy commentator Jonathan Brown said of Powell-Pepper.
"Michael Voss as the midfield coach would love those two at his disposal."
The man he could become - Wines - was tremendous with a game-high 33 disposals, five inside 50s and nine clearances while 200th gamer and skipper Travis Boak was back at his best with 26 touches.
It came after a pre-season where the talk around Port Adelaide was all about coach Ken Hinkley's place or non-place on the hot seat.
"There was a lot of talk but we can't really take too much notice of that," Boak said post-game.
"It was a really strong performance against a great team," Hinkley said.
"We've admired them forever. Our challenge is to be consistent, we'll try to be that team this year more than we have ever been.
"I said we were going to be a bit different and today we showed that."
REID RIGHT BACK AT HIS BEST
THE Swans faded late in the contest after holding a quarter-time lead and only trailed at the long break following a post-siren goal.
Returning swingman Sam Reid was a big part of that first half showing. The tall was in his first AFL game since going down with a hamstring injury in a 2015 qualifying final loss to Fremantle, while he missed all of 2016 after being hampered by an Achilles complaint.
Reid bagged three goals to halftime in a performance that was seeing him draw comparisons to an all-time Swans great - who just happens to have been coaching him this pre-season.
"A healthy Sam Reid is hard to stop because of his pure athleticism," Fox Footy commentator Jonathan Brown said.
"I love the way he's moved at the ball, he's going hard at the ball and no doubt that's partly because of Tony Lockett."
Sydney assistant coach Stuart Dew told Fox Footy's coverage he was thrilled to see the 25-year-old back in action.
"I'm really pleased for Reidy. He was unlucky at the end of last year not to play, he's so important to us," Dew said.