Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has been rewarded with a two-year contract extension after helping lift the AFL club back into premiership contention last season.
With the new season just around the corner, it’s time to evaluate how Port Adelaide’s season could potentially go.
The offseason has gone very smoothly for the Power with the only notable injury to Ollie Wines. It will mean coach Ken Hinkley will have his entire squad to choose from for his last preseason hit out against the Dogs in a bid to gear up for Round 1 on the Gold Coast in a few weeks’ time.
So what exactly get we expect from Port this season? According to Hinkley, Port will be playing finals which is a very bold claim but in order to do that, they will have to play more consistently than they did last year.
Port were the Jekyll and Hyde of the competition, barely stringing together consecutive wins throughout the season. Notable wins against West Coast and Geelong were quickly forgotten with bad losses to the Bulldogs, Giants and North Melbourne.
Did injuries play a part in Port’s inconsistent season? Sure, but not to the extent of some of their performances suggested.
No Wines and Charlie Dixon to start the first month or so didn’t help, along with Jack Watts and Tom Jonas who both missed significant game time with Watts out for the season early on. Constantly swapping ruck combinations, Port struggled to field the same 22 consistently.
If there was a silver lining to the 2019 season it was Port’s youth. Top draft picks Conor Rozee, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma got much-needed game time at the top level with all showing their quality at stages throughout the year. Rozee was Port’s leading goalkicker with 29, so at least something good came out of an underwhelming season.
So the 2020 season is a defining one for Port. If they are the side that Hinkley believes they are, then they should be looking at three wins from three to start the season. Gold Coast away first up will not be a boil over by any means and is a potential banana skin, the showdown in Round 2 could go either way and usually does, North at Marvel where they dismantled the Power last year to the tune of 86 points and a tough home game to follow against the Eagles closing out Port’s first month.
3-1 would be a good start to the year from the opening four games.
After the first month, the Power’s schedule gets a little bit harder. Collingwood away, home games against the Dogs and Blues, away to Melbourne, home to the lions and then consecutive away trips against Hawthorn and the rescheduled China match with St.Kilda before Port’s bye at Round 12.
I have Port going 5-2through this stretch, which would set up nicely at 8-3 going into the second half of the year.
Coming out of the bye Port’s games don’t get any easier; the second showdown of the year while also playing Geelong and Richmond with Fremantle in between could easily derail Port’s season. I see them going 2-2 through this stretch with the Suns and Swans to follow, which should be victories if Port are to play finals and leave them sitting at 12-5.
Port’s end to the season is a tough one with Hinkley’s men playing the Hawks(h), Eagles (a), Bombers (h), Dogs (a) and the Giants at home to finish. I can see Port going 3-3 to end their season at 14-7, which going by last year’s ladder would see them finishing as high as sixth and have them playing finals.
Only time will tell if this is the year Port Adelaide take that next step into the top eight or if will they continue to struggle to find that consistency their fans crave. Their preseason has gone off without much of a hitch with limited injuries and a good showing against the Lions, but we all know preseason wins count for nothing once the regular season rolls around.
In Port Adelaide’s 150th year it is literally finals or bust for Ken Hinkley’s men. No pressure boys.