Today my list analysis and offseason preview series continues with Port Adelaide, a team which has now come achingly close to finals only to miss out for the second year in a row.
This is the 13th of 19 articles looking at the meta-results for both team and players, as collected from ELO-Following Football’s wide range of sources.
Presenting the Port Adelaide Power.
The team finished in fifth place with a home-and-away record of 14-8 and a percentage of 130, high enough to place above Sydney and host West Coast in the Eliminationa Final – which didn’t go so well.
They lost painfully on an overtime, after-the-siren goal from a free kick that SA fans will undoubtedly tell you was questionable at best.
Fortunately, they spared themselves that kind of pain this season.
Like the year before, the consensus was sixth place. The range of forecasts roamed from second to 10th.
I freely confess to be one of those thinking the additions to their already-strong roster would push them into contention for the premiership this season. When they were 11-4 after Round 16, they seemed poised to do so.
Coming into the season, the players who were considered to be in the top 50 in the league by the AFLPA or The Roar included Robbie Gray (top 15), Ollie Wines, and Paddy Ryder.
With a four-game losing streak that knocked them out of the finals altogether. They finished in a frustrating 10th place, 12-10, dragging along a percentage of 108 that sat them behind the upstart Kangaroos.
The only consolation, for some, might be that Adelade sat behind them with a lower percentage and out of finals as well.
Five years since the Power won a game in the finals, making the prelims in 2014.
It’s been 15 years and counting since their one AFL flag, that glorious day in 2004 when they dismembered three-peaters Brisbane 113-73, after their two previous minor premierships had gone down in flames.
According to our patented “ELO-Following Football” rating system, they were in fourth place with a rating of 62.4 in March. Two quick wins pushed them to 68, their high point this season.
Three poor games dropped them 14 points, but they returned to a hillock of 63.7 after their Round 14 defeat of the Demons.
However, only a pathetic performance by the Bulldogs against them in Round 19 kept the Power from reducing their rating in each of their final eight games, incredibly ending the season below average, at 49.0.
That sat them in 12th, the last of the “competitive” teams in the AFL. The Bulldogs were the highest of the six non-competitive teams, at 39.
The other rating systems said that, as ours said above, they started well, looked like a threat, and ended either 11th or 12th on everyone’s list. You know – just like in real life.
Final record: 14-8.
Betting Line expectations: The Power were favoured by pundits in 17 games this season, expected to go 17-5 with a +296 margin. They went just 9-13 against the spread this year.
ELO-Following Football forecasts: We only favoured them at a rate of 14-8, but we freely admit they weren’t all the same fourteen games that they actually won.
AFL.com.au game predictions: 13-9.
The Roar predictions: 13-9; the individual picks totalled an impressive 79-42.
“Pick-A-Winner” predictions: 13 wins, 9 losses.
The Age forecasters: Also 13-9; individual choices were 169-95.
BetEasy “CrowdBet” percentages: 15-7.
My own game-by-game predictions expected the Power to go 13-9.
We’re sticking with the obvious: the Motlop winner in Round 8 that won the day against the arch-rivals from down the street, 95-90.
It brought them up to 5-3, even with… y’know what? None of that matters.
They beat the flippin’ Crows with a dramatic last-minute goal! What else matters?
From three differing perspectives, the loss to Fremantle in Round 17 was a fairly definitive the worst loss of the season.
First, losing to Fremantle at all this season, especially for a team sitting 11-4 at the time, was embarrassing enough. That said, at the time, the scuttlebutt was regarding the damage it did to their ‘flag’ ambitions and their hopes of making top two.
It turned out, however, that the second reason it was the worst loss of the season was it began a slide that, except for a one-game respite against the Bulldogs, failed to see them win or even play particularly well again.
The loss of Paddy Ryder that day is not coincidental to that 1-6 finish which not only hurt their flag chances and knocked them out of the top two, but also the top four and top eight as well.
And thirdly? It was simply an ugly game, top to bottom.
“Bringing in Watts, Motlop, and Rockliff produced a net negative two wins?”
1. Robbie Gray – 284 points (25th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Fourth. Eight Brownlow votes placed him second on the club this year.
Last year’s position: First the last three years (overall 10th, 14th, and 10th).
Notable games: One dominant game (in R8), three prominent games (R4-5 and R20), and three notable games (in R2, R11 and R13). All-Australian Half-Forward.
2. Ollie Wines – 190 points (61st overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Equal second. Received 14 Brownlow votes this year, most on the club.
Last year’s position: Third (28th overall) last year and the year before.
Notable games: One prominent game (R2) and three notable games (R12 through R14 consecutively).
3. Justin Westhoff – 170 points (70th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Received his first ever medal as the Port Adelaide Power Best & Fairest. Also received five Brownlow votes, fourth on the club.
Last year’s position: eighth last year; fifth in 2016.
Notable games: One dominant game (R23), two prominent games (R1 and R6), and one notable game (R12).
4. Jared Polec – 152 points (74th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Fifth. Third on the club with seven Brownlow votes.
Last year’s position: Ninth.
Notable games: Two prominent games, in R6 and R19.
5. Chad Wingard – 139 points (82nd overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Sixth.
Last year’s position: Fifth (50th overall), and fourth in 2016.
Notable games: Two notable games (in R15-16).
6. Tom Jonas – 110 points (103rd overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Equal second; also named Clubman of the year.
Last year’s position: 13th.
Notable games: One dominant game, in R14, and one prominent game, in R19. All-Australian 40-man roster.
7. Charlie Dixon – 106 points (109th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Not in top ten.
Last year’s position: Fourth (41st overall), and 12th in 2016.
Notable games: One prominent game (R19).
8. Steven Motlop – 87 points (144th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Thirteenth, so, not in the top ten.
Last year’s position: 11th at Geelong, and fourth the year before.
Notable games: Just one notable game, in R16. Except for winning the Showdown in R8 with a last-minute major, his first season in teal wasn’t particularly remarkable. Or Motlop-like.
9. Travis Boak – 84 points (152nd overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Ninth.
Last year’s position: Seventh (83rd overall).
Notable games: One prominent game, in China. (R9.)
10. Sam Gray – 74 points (180th overall)
Best & Fairest finish: Not in top ten.
Last year’s position: Tenth (159th overall).
Notable games: Two prominent games (R3 and R6).
Port Adelaide had five top 100 players and 14 top 200 players in the 2018 ELO-FF meta-rankings. Averages would be 5.5 and 11, respectively.
Riley Bonner – 16th place (60 points) – One prominent game, back in R1.
Darcy Byrne-Jones – 14th place (65 points) – Seventh in Port’s Best & Fairest voting.
Tom Clurey – 17th points (40 points) – Tenth in Best & Fairest voting.
Dan Houston – 19th place (35 points) – Eighth in Best & Fairest voting, plus was also voted Best Clubman.
Tom Rockliff – equal 12th place (71 points) – One notable game, in R13.
Paddy Ryder – equal 12th place (also 71 points) – Also one notable game, also in R13. Possibly proof that the Illuminati exist.
In: Ryan Burton (Hawthorn), Scott Lycett (West Coast), and Sam Mayes (Brisbane).
Gone: Jack Hombsch, Jasper Pittard, Jared Polec, and Chad Wingard. On that list of four names, Wingard stands out like a sore thumb. It seems a step backwards.
Current list of draft picks: 5, 10, and 15 (three first-round choices!), plus 85 (pointless).
Backs: Riley Bonner, Ryan Burton, Darcy Byrne-Jones, Tom Clurey, Hamish Hartlett, Dan Houston, Tom Jonas
Midfielders: Brad Ebert, Kane Farrell, Steven Motlop, Tom Rockliff, Justin Westhoff, Ollie Wines,
Rucks: Scott Lycett, Paddy Ryder.
Forwards: Travis Boak, Charlie Dixon, Robbie Gray, Sam Gray, Dougal Howard, Aidyn Johnson, Todd Marshall, Sam Powell-Pepper, Jack Watts.
It’s hard to see losing Polec and Wingard as a positive. With three first-round draft picks, you get the feeling that they’re taking the long view right now, but after going all in last season to add the talent they did, it may just end up being a case of addition by subtraction.
Will Wines get more time up front? Will Westhoff rise to the challenge? Or does their late-season fade in 2018 signal something more ominous moving forward?
We hate to be pessimists, but we foresee a continued fall for the Power in 2019, and are pegging them to drop all the way down into 15th place for the upcoming season.