Gray red-hot as Power thumps Blues
ON a Friday night where Carlton justified the AFL's decision to award it just one Friday night fixture for the 2017 season, one man justified the hype around him with a one-man freak show.
Despite the lopsided scoreboard, you couldn't take your eyes off Robbie Gray on Friday night as the Port Adelaide superstar proved why he's arguably among the top 10 players in the competition.
And while it wasn't Gray's smoothest night at the office - his accuracy in front of goal would've frustrated Port Adelaide fans - it was certainly one of his most entertaining.
Gray finished with 5.4 from 22 disposals, 10 contested possessions, nine marks, five inside 50s and two goal assists to inspire the Power to a massive 90-point win over the Blues and claim the Anzac medal for best on ground.
As Port Adelaide put the foot down against the Blues in the third term to set up its massive win at the Adelaide Oval, Gray opened his cash till and pulled out his own credit card machine, ready to take payment for his own performance.
In the third quarter alone, Gray had nine disposals, six contested possessions, four marks (three contested, two inside 50) and six shots on goal (2.4). Most importantly, nearly all of those disposals were won close to goal, where Gray is developing a reputation as one of the most dangerous forward 50 player in the competition.
Gray this season isn't accumulating as much footy as the past three years, mainly because he's not spending as much time in the guts. But his heavy forward 50 time is paying dividends for the Power, who now have several dangerous mid-sized forwards in Gray, Chad Wingard and Aaron Young, with Angus Monfries still on the sidelines.
Not only was Gray clean at ground level against the Blues, he was clever and strong in one-on-one contests, highlighted by his three contested marks in the third term.
Gray was extremely unlucky not to be paid two marks in the second half. He out-bodied his Carlton opponent close to goal in the third term then ran back with the flight in the fourth term - both times seemingly doing enough to claim the mark, but both times not being rewarded.
Gray was on the end of several exhilarating Port Adelaide chains during Friday night's win.
The Power's run from the back-half line, led by Matthew Broadbent, Jasper Pittard, Jared Polec and Darcy Byrne-Jones, was electric, helping the Power score over 100 points for the third time in five games.
The run reminded dual Brownlow Medallist Chris Judd of the Power gamestyle that took the competition by storm a few years ago.
"Port are starting to resemble its 2014 team of quick scoring. Some players are getting back to their very best," Judd told Triple M.