Port Adelaide v Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns v Sydney Swans

It wasn’t until the last 90 seconds of the first quarter, with the Swans already up by 33 points, that Noah Anderson scrambled the Suns’ first goal of the season. Sam Flanders had another on the stroke of quarter time to give them a pulse.

Former skipper David Swallow turned that pulse into a heartbeat with a third goal in two minutes of playing time early in the second. But by the end of the half, the Swans had restored a 29-point advantage and were playing like they were the team with a point to prove.

A six-goal third quarter made that point with emphasis, quickly putting the game to bed. If class is permanent, as the saying goes, then a bad day at the office last September hasn’t robbed the likes of Errol Gulden, Chad Warner, Callum Mills and Ollie Florent of it.

Still, they’ll face sterner opposition than the Suns provided. At times the match looked more like a training drill, with the Suns barely competitive at times. Where was the anticipation and intensity – the excitement, even – that an opening-round game demands?

True, the game was played in energy-sapping conditions, with humidity nudging 90 per cent. But, surely, that should only have pointed to a slight advantage to the home side. And they didn’t come to play.

The Swans queued up for goal, with 12 players hitting the sheet. It wasn’t always slick – the ball was too slippery for that – but it was far too easy. Notwithstanding a few late goals in junk time, that should put the Suns under the microscope next week.

Port recruits fire in 54-point victory over Brisbane

Port Adelaide’s pair of prized recruits have made instant impacts in a 54-point belting of the Brisbane Lions.

Jason Horne-Francis was best-afield and Junior Rioli slotted three goals in the Power’s resounding 18.18 (126) to 11.6 (72) triumph at Adelaide Oval.

Horne-Francis was superb with his 25 disposals featuring 10 inside 50s, 11 score involvements and a goal – and he sparked a match-winning Power surge in the third term.

After trailing by 10 points at halftime, Port booted eight goals to one in a decisive third quarter.

Horne-Francis, the 2021 No.1 draft pick who walked out on North Melbourne after one season, ran rampant in the onslaught with a dozen touches, five inside 50s and three clearances for the term.

Happy Port days: Jason Horne-Francis hugs a teammate as Will Ashcroft looks on.Credit:AFL Photos / Getty Images

And ex-Eagle Rioli was an ever-present threat to the lacklustre Lions, who were well served by their own key signing, former Bulldog Josh Dunkley.

Dunkley gathered 19 disposals and seven clearances, veteran Daniel Rich was most influential with 26 touches while Lachie Neale was relatively subdued with 20 possessions.

Brisbane were collectively overwhelmed after making the early running in a dominant second stanza punctuated by Port’s Charlie Dixon blowing up.

An abusive Dixon gave away consecutive 50m penalties when penalised for a high tackle on Rich and the Lion goaled – the first of six majors as the visitors crafted an 18-point lead.

Dixon paid off some of his debt with a goal after the halftime siren to leave the Power 12 points down.

And Horne-Francis then took the spotlight with his third-term feats as the Lions wilted.

Port’s tall forwards Todd Marshall (four goals) and Dixon (3.3) complemented Rioli’s eye-catching haul which featured a spectacular high mark.


Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (29 disposals) and Zak Butters (24 touches) helped Horne-Francis rule the midfield while backmen Ryan Burton (24) and Darcy Byrne-Jones (27) were prolific ball-winners.

Brisbane’s hyped debutant Will Ashcroft snapped a classy goal among his 13 touches.

And ex-Hawk Jack Gunston and Zac Bailey scored two goals apiece on a well-held Lions forward line.

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