Round 10 preview: Werribee vs Port Melbourne

Werribee will be looking to carry some momentum into the mid-season bye with a win over old rival Port Melbourne at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday.

Match details

Saturday, June 9
3pm at Avalon Airport Oval
Wear your local Wyndham team’s footy colours for free entry

The story so far

After a tough month of football that showed plenty of promising signs but yielded no reward, Werribee finally scored a big breakthrough win with a stunning upset victory over fifth-placed Box Hill. Now sitting at 2-6, it has a golden opportunity to notch back-to-back wins heading into the bye and take another big step towards proving it is a better team than its early-season record suggests.
To do so, it will need to overcome a Port Melbourne side that is again around the mark in season 2018. The reigning premiers currently sit at 5-3, but that record includes two narrow losses in recent weeks, and they will be buoyed by last week’s 47-point away win against Frankston.

Recent history

Werribee and Port Melbourne have certainly known how to put on a good show in their recent clashes, and last year’s round-15 fixture at Craigieburn’s RAMS Arena may well have been the pick of the bunch – certainly in the eyes of the black-and-gold faithful. After clawing their way back into the lead from 29-points down early in the third term, Werribee had to overcome one final assault from the Borough to snatch a thrilling five-point victory in its best performance of the season and one of the VFL games of the year.

Talking points

“What impact will Matt Hanson’s injury have on Werribee?” So read the question put forward by VFL.com.au last week, and the “big W” delivered an emphatic response. Through its combination of contested-ball-winning and tackling pressure, the quartet of Tom Gribble, Kurt Aylett, Ben Moloney, and Dom Brew turned out Werribee’s most complete midfield performance of the year to see their side ultimately prevail 47-30 in the final clearance count. It sets up a tantalising showdown with the Port midfield this week, with Tom Sullivan and one-time Werribee on-baller Isaac Conway both in red-hot touch for the Borough at the stoppages.

Through the marking presences of Sam Collins and Nick Coughlan, the lockdown work of Jack Henderson, and the dash off half-back of Dane McFarlane, Ryley Barrack, and captain Michael Sodomaco, Werribee found the defensive effort it had been searching for last week. It will be looking for a repeat performance against a Borough side boasting some serious forward firepower, most notably Jordan Lisle. With 24 goals so far this season, the two-time Frosty Miller medallist in on track to claim the honour for a third time, and his six-goal haul against the Dolphins last week – not to mention his five against Werribee at Craigieburn last year – will do nothing to hurt his confidence.

Jake Sharp is best known for his work on the wing and down back, but he made a compelling case for a more regular spot in Werribee’s forward setup with his efforts against Box Hill last week. As well as heading his side’s scoring tally with three goals, Sharp helped drive a much-improved forward defensive effort against the Hawks through his pressure and ability to create contests from the kickout, so it will be interesting to see if he again finds himself in front of goal this week.

It was always going to take time for Josh Porter to readapt to VFL football after being away for so long, but the key forward and part-time ruck last week gave his strongest indication yet that he is well on his way. Porter’s rundown tackle on Conor Glass proved to be the defining moment of the game, and while his subsequent goal – his first since 2016 – was his only major for the match, he could easily have had three or four if not for a couple of missed shots and a few other opportunities dished off. The prospect of a fit and firing Porter is an exciting one for Werribee, as it will provide it with another key contested marking option inside forward 50 to help take the load off Josh Corbett.

Midfielder Cassidy Parish has already been confirmed as a debutante for Werribee on Saturday, but he may not be alone. After a whirlwind few weeks that have seen him first brought into the fold at Avalon Airport Oval and then confirmed as a mid-season replacement for injured ruckman Nick Nott, key-position recruit Julian Lockwood is also a potential inclusion against the Borough. Should the Norther Territory Thunder premiership player get the nod for this weekend, he will no doubt be a welcome inclusion for Jack Berry, who has been forced to shoulder extra load since Nott’s unfortunate injury and would no doubt appreciate some extra assistance against Port big men Khan Haretuku and Guy Dickson.

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