Bullet-proof Port home game will be tough task for Roosters

HOW DOES a team crack a seemingly bullet-proof Port Melbourne at home?

Many teams have tried and few have succeeded since Gary Ayres took the helm of the ‘Borough in 2008.

The fact that North Port Oval is a true fortress is as well known about the Victorian Football League as the club’s ‘Borough Burger it sells its hungry fans.

North Ballarat Roosters will take their turn against Port Melbourne at the Borough’s formidable base tomorrow.

Selkirk Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said Port’s toughness is more than just a home ground advantage.

Port, under Ayres, had built a strong outfit that continually troubled rivals.

“Port Melbourne are playing very, very well again this season and are a very, very mature side,” FitzGerald said.

“They hardly ever lose at home and are strong on the road, that’s why they are a very good side.

“But they are just about bullet-proof at home.”

FitzGerald said it was a credit to Port Melbourne to retain a good contingent of premiership players and experience about the stand-alone club.

Borough captain John Baird sets the tone. JJ Liston medallist Shane Valenti, midfielder Toby Pinwill and forwards Dean Galea and Adrian Bonaddio are established and key players for Port.

Former Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn-listed ruckman Wayde Skipper dominates ruck hit-outs and pushes up forward – FitzGerald said playing against Skipper offered Roosters’ starting ruck Ben Mabon a great chance to develop his game.

The Roosters have experience and leadership in their line-up to rattle Port with midfield duo Myles Sewell and Steve Clifton each Liston medallists – an honour Clifton shared with Valenti in 2010 – fellow state representative Lachie George, North Melbourne-listed defender Luke Delaney and Kangaroos’ midfielders Ben Jacobs and Liam Anthony.

Roosters captain Michael Searl should be a key inclusion and will confirm today, if he is 100 per cent fine to return from a broken hand.

The Roosters also have the advantage of fresh legs.

About half Port’s line-up featured in a Foxtel Cup clash against SANFL club West Adelaide at the MCG on Tuesday night.

FitzGerald went to the MCG, largely to support Victorian football.

It helped too, just to gauge what Port might serve up against the Roosters.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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