Reported by Paul Amy
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THE conditions were miserable. It was cold, a biting breeze blew to the Williamstown Rd end of North Port Oval, the ground was heavy with water and in some places thick with mud, and there was on-and-off rain.
And for the Port Melbourne players, the result was like a cold bath.
The Borough went into Saturday’s match against their great rival Williamstown with excellent form, but they were never in it.
The Seagulls had a goal in the first 90 seconds courtesy of Leigh Masters and were on their way.
By three quarter time they led by 49 points, having had the better of the home team in every facet of the match.
Port Melbourne kicked the first three goals of the last quarter but they were more consolations than a threat to Willy’s lead.
In any event Seagull Jack Dorgan banished the prospect of a Borough comeback with a long goal on his lovely left foot.
The final margin was 33 points, leaving Willy (11-3) on course for a top-two position and Port (9-5) in a scrap for a top-four finish with Casey, Sandringham and Footscray.
Masters mastered his set-shot kicking and finished with four goals for the Seagulls, and Willie Wheeler (30 possessions), captain Ben Jolley (28) and Michael Gibbons (23) ploughed through the wet going like Cup winner Van der Hum.
David Fahey, Peter Faulks, Caleb Sullivan, Ben Bese, Jack Charleston and Jack Johnston formed a defensive line that held Port to five goals in three quarters.
The Seagulls credited human tank Nick Meese with 65 hit-outs, and Dorgan and teammate Brett Bewley (24 possessions) both won their wings. They have a bit in common. They are former Western Jets, they kick the ball beautifully and they have that extra time that distinguishes the best from the rest.
Then there was “Little Red’’, Anthony Anastasio, who made merry in the forward line, always testing the Borough backmen with his daring and his dash.
It was easy to identify Willy’s winners, but Port coach Gary Ayres battled to find one as he chewed over a disappointing loss.
Shannen Lange (27 possessions) and the combative Matt Arnot (24) were named best.
Ayres said he sensed before the game that all was not right with his players.
“I was concerned about where their mental state was at,’’ he said.
“Today we got a really good whack, and a right whack, about where we’re at if we want to compete with the top sides. There will be a denting of some rather large egos, I would have thought.
“We had a lot of passengers. It was a rude awakening in terms of having a long way to go to be the number one side.’’
Ayres called Willy a “hardened and relentless outfit … they were clinical, they were professional, they were clean with everything they did’’.
Seagulls coach Andy Collins termed it one of his team’s “best and most important wins’’ of the season.
“Adverse conditions, in-form opponent, really happy with how we played,’’ he said. “It was a high-pressure game from both teams. I thought we took our opportunities forward of the ball a bit better.’’
Port dasher Nathan Batsanis’s rotten luck continued when, playing his second game back from injury, he was knocked out in the third quarter. Face down in the mud, he hadn’t moved by the time the stretcher arrived but thankfully he was feeling OK after the match.
The Borough were missing reliable defender Luke Tynan, who will be out for two or three weeks with an ankle injury.
More pleasingly Sam Dwyer, returning from the off-the-bone hamstring injury he suffered in a practice match, played a half in the Development League and had 12 possessions.
Port Melbourne 2.0 5.1 5.2 10.3 (63)
Williamstown 5.4 8.6 12.9 14.12 (96)
Port Melbourne: Lisle 2 Osborne 2 Scipione Pearson Sandilands Waddell Haretuku O’Sullivan
Williamstown: Masters 4 Anastasio 2 Dorgan 2 Chisari Lockwood Jolley Carr Conway Monk
Port Melbourne: Lange Arnot Osborne Pinwill O’Sullivan Van Unen
Williamstown: Masters Wheeler Jolley Anastasio Dorgan Gibbons