Horne-Francis defies boos again as Power upset Saints
April 29, 2023 / 12:13 am
Maligned young gun Jason Horne-Francis has starred again, leading Port Adelaide to an emotion-charged upset AFL win over ladder-leading St Kilda.
Saints fans were the latest to boo Horne-Francis, who produced a best-afield performance at Marvel Stadium as the Power won a Friday night special 12.11 (83) to 11.10 (76).
Horne-Francis racked up 11 clearances and 18 contested possessions as the Power honoured long-time football department secretary Di Pounsett, who died this week aged 69.
The booing prompted a two-pronged rebuke from Saints coach Ross Lyon, who urged fans to consider the effect they might have on young players – while noting that clearly, their abuse didn’t work.
Lyon referred to a line from American comedian Dave Schappelle, saying: “Let’s not punch down on a 19-year-old.
“He was big. He was pretty powerful.
“There’s a couple of things; people are doing as a mob what they wouldn’t do as individuals, so maybe just check yourself. There’s a lot of mental stress on players.
“If you’re doing it to put him off his game … well clearly it doesn’t work, which is great for the kid.”
Power coach Ken Hinkley, a fierce defender of Horne-Francis in the last few weeks, was full of praise again for the young midfield bull.
Horne-Francis, the 2021 No.1 draft pick, has become a target for opposition fans after his decision to leave North Melbourne and join Port after only one season.
“We’ve said a bit about Jase – I’ve said a lot about him – he’s got a lot to learn and a lot more growth to come, but his temperament – he can handle the pressure,” Hinkley said.
Hinkley was also emotional as he spoke warmly of Pounsett, who had been at Port since they joined the AFL.
“I saw her on Monday. She always would say ‘bring the four points home’. We brought the four points home for you, Di, and we love you,” he said.
While this was Port’s fourth-straight win, they lost the free kick count by an astonishing 28-14 to continue their poor run with the umpires this season.
“At the moment, we’re a long way in front with the free-kick count against. It would be nice to get some clarity from the umpires back to us, if we’re that poor at some of the things we’re doing,” Hinkley said.
Likewise, Lyon was mystified by a crucial free kick paid against Saints defender Josh Battle in the last term, when he moved slightly off his line and was called to play on.
Power forward Charlie Dixon pounced, smothering his kick, and that led directly to a goal to Sam Powell-Pepper.
Overall, it was a high-pressure game in which St Kilda took control early, only for Port to roar back.
St Kilda were held goalless in the second term – the first time that has happened to them this season.
With the clash in the balance, key position player Jeremy Finlayson went into defence and took two crucial marks late in the last quarter.
Finlayson also snapped the goal in the last term that gave Port the lead again after St Kilda had kicked the first two goals of the quarter.
The win is a far cry from Port’s round-three Showdown loss, which prompted former Port captain Warren Tredrea to say Hinkley’s future was untenable.
Port midfielder Xavier Duursma hurt his knee in a heavy collision with Saints ruckman Rowan Marshall and was emotional when he had to be subbed out of the game during quarter-time.
(C) AAP 2023