Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley doesn’t want to be a party-pooper.
But after decking another AFL heavyweight with a 35-point belting of Collingwood, Hinkley pulled the plug on any wild celebrations.
“For all the Port fans … be proud of the boys, be really pumped for what they have been able to do,” Hinkley said after Port’s 13.8 (86) to 7.9 (51) win against the Magpies on Saturday.
“But understand it’s still a journey.
“I’m not trying to hose that (excitement) down in any way – other than to say this is a young team still with lots to learn.”
A week after beating reigning premiers Sydney, Port accounted for perennial powerhouse Collingwood before a rejuvenated home crowd of 31,121 spectators at AAMI Stadium.
Port are now entrenched in the top eight and on track to return to the finals after a five-year absence.
The Power have eight wins this season – the same amount they managed during their past two bleak years – and it’s not just the wider AFL community that is surprised.
“From the day we got here, I don’t think we quite realised the ability of the group to want to play tough,” said first-year coach Hinkley.
“They went through some horrible times last year.
“We have come in and they have been in a really good space but they have been in a really demanding space of each other. And so far they have got the results they deserve.”
Port’s comprehensive triumph was created by midfield grunt: Brad Ebert was superb with 30 disposals, captain Travis Boak gathered 29 possessions and Matthew Broadbent had 34 touches as a sweeping defender.
Tall targets Justin Westhoff and Jay Schulz both kicked three goals while small forwards Chad Wingard and Angus Monfries each slotted two.
After conceding the initial two goals, Port strangled their visitors and kicked 10 of the next 13 goals – they kept the Magpies goal-less from the second minute of the third term until the 23rd minute of the last.
Port won every quarter in a performance which drew praise from Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, who said the Power’s intensity was “finals-like”.
“It was definitely top eight pressure,” Buckley said.
“That young side will win a lot of games.”