2017 season review: Port Adelaide Power

Stirling Coates Roar Guru

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    Port Adelaide made a return to the top eight after a brief exile, although found themselves out of the finals in the first week after a devastatingly close elimination final loss.

    Have the Power we expected in 2015 and 2016 finally arrived? Or did 2017 just see the planets align for an also-ran?

    What I predicted
    “Ryder and Monfries will add a bit more to the team than people may realise in 2016, the boost they provide in the ruck and up forward mean nothing if their teammates can’t hit targets.”

    Prediction: 12th

    What actually happened
    Port Adelaide started their season with a monumental upset of Sydney at the SCG, before crushing the Dockers at home to have many thinking the Power were finally back in business.

    The club went 4-5 over the next nine however, mixing crushing wins over lowly Brisbane and Gold Coast with comprehensive losses to finals hopefuls Greater Western Sydney and Essendon.

    A run of four wins in five saw Port break free from the pack and, while they battled with two losses and a very lucky win over St Kilda over the next three weeks, they finished the season off with three solid wins to finish fifth.

    They recovered from a very slow start in their elimination final to draw level with the Eagles at full time, but they let a 13-point extra time lead slip in a heartbreaking two-point loss.

    The club got good years out of most of their stars, with Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard, Brad Ebert and Ollie Wines all having consistent seasons.

    Paddy Ryder was worth his weight in gold returning from the ASADA suspension, proving to be one of the competition’s premier ruckmen, while Charlie Dixon lifted his game a few notches after an iffy first season at Alberton.

    Sam Powell-Pepper was also one of the AFL’s best rookies.

    Port Adelaide kicked the ball a lot more in 2017 and the shift in disposal philosophy paid dividends, with the Power converting their pre-existing strength in clearances into a league-first ranking in inside 50s and second-placed ranking in points.

    Best win
    Round 16: West Coast Eagles 13.10 (88) def. by Port Adelaide 18.12 (120)

    Port had a reputation as downhill skiers for much of 2017, so they weren’t favourites against the Eagles on their own home deck.

    But after a tight tussle for the first three quarters, the Power blew the game open with a scintillating final quarter performance.

    Eight goals from the visitors to West Coast’s three, saw them leave Perth with a resounding 32-point victory.

    Worst loss
    Round 20: Adelaide Crows 18.22 (130) def. Port Adelaide 7.4 (46)

    In one of the most anticipated Southern Showdowns in the Adelaide Oval era, the Power were keen to exact revenge following a loss to the Crows in Round 3.

    Instead, the Power slumped to one of the most embarrassing showdown losses in history.

    The halftime score of 45-9 would’ve been much worse if not for inaccurate Adelaide kicking, with the final margin of 84 points still only somewhat reflective of Port’s abysmal performance.

    What needs to happen next year?
    On the stat sheet there’s nothing, as far as weakness goes, that jumps out at you when it comes to Port Adelaide.

    They may rank 14th in the competition for rebound 50s but, given they concede the fewest inside 50s to begin with, moving the ball out of the back half isn’t a problem.

    Where Port must improve in 2017 is the effort they bring against the competition’s elite.

    Their reputation as flat track bullies was well deserved in 2017, with Port Adelaide’s record against bottom ten sides a cool 12-1, while their record against the top teams was 2-7.

    Their completely uncompetitive efforts against the Bombers at Etihad and Adelaide in the second showdown were particularly damning and, with a tougher draw most likely on the way next year, increased competitiveness will be vital.

    Early prediction
    Port did enough to prove their meteoric rise in 2013 and 2014 wasn’t just a flash in the pan, but their poor performances against top sides leaves them still with several doubters heading into next season.

    With a presumably tougher draw next season, backing up this season’s efforts – while not impossible – will be a tough ask for the Power.

    Prediction: seventh-10th

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