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Rockliff, Powell-Pepper in line to return as Port seeks contested edge

Football

Winning the contested ball will be key to Port Adelaide breaking Adelaide’s recent dominance in the Showdown, Power captain Travis Boak insists.

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The Power have not won a derby since 2015 and the skipper pinpointed the reason for the majority of these losses.

“You got to be up for the fight and we haven’t been able to match Adelaide in the contested ball in those games,” Boak told reporters today.

Port Adelaide’s failure to win the contested ball was a big part of last week’s 42-point loss to the Eagles, with West Coast winning the contested possession battle 162-120.

“There is no doubt that performance was nowhere near what we expect, I mean to lose the contested ball by that much is a pretty poor performance,” Boak said.

To combat this, midfielders Sam Powell-Pepper and Tom Rockliff are likely to be recalled for the 44th Showdown. The pair have spent time in the SANFL after prized recruit Rockliff laboured through the opening rounds of the year with injury, while Powell-Pepper has served a ban for his much-publicised late-night indiscretions.

“They’ll definitely put their hand up for selection and both are very good contested ball players,” Boak said. 

Port will have to contend with a Crows team on Saturday coming off a 55-point win over Carlton and the likely return of captain Taylor Walker, who said he was very confident of overcoming a hamstring injury.

“I’ve been able to do a fair bit of conditioning and pretty much all training the last seven or eight days,” Walker said. 

Adelaide, who are third on the ladder (5-2), may also be boosted by the return of midfielder Rory Sloane, but Walker said regardless of form, it’s always an even battle against arch-rivals Port. 

“They are always great contests no matter where you are on the ladder so I would be tipping it will be a pretty hot contest come Saturday,” Walker said. 

-AAP

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