The pain of a narrow preliminary final loss will be the perfect sharp edge to carry Port Adelaide into the future, after a successful 2020.
If Ken Hinkley was looking for a response to last week’s fade out against St Kilda, then he got it and then some.
Port Adelaide utterly dominated a disappointing Melbourne side to the tune of 51 points at the Gabba on Thursday night.
It was clear from the outset that Port meant business with Mitch Georgiades scoring a goal within the first minute. Port never looked back.
The Power had winners everywhere, led by ex-skipper Travis Boak, Karl Amon and Ollie Wines, who all had 25 disposals in the midfield. Young Mitch Georgiades kicked three goals from his 11 touches in what was his best game for the club.
The much maligned Justin Westhoff was also very serviceable with two goals from his ten touches. Connor Rozee got back to his goal-kicking ways with two. The list goes on.
Melbourne clearly had the advantage in the middle of the ground with Max Gawn up against young Peter Ladhams and apart from the first quarter in which Gawn had his way with the Power ruckman, Ladhams was decent throughout the rest of the game.
The Demons won the hit outs 44-13 but only won the clearance battle by one and Port won the centre clearances 10-8, which shows that even though Gawn was winning most taps, Port’s midfield was better at reading the hit outs and they took full advantage.
Port Adelaide demoralised Melbourne. The Dees were kept to just 1.3 in the first half to Port’s 6.6. The margin could have been closer had Melbourne taken their chances going inside 50. The third quarter was when Port really put the foot down, booting four goals to two with Melbourne’s two coming late in the quarter to effectively end the game as a contest.
Port did not have a passenger, something that could not be said last week. Georgiades was a real presence up forward, showing his marking prowess along with his three goals, Westhoff returned to a bit of form, as did Rozee, who hit the scoreboard with two goals as well. Ollie Wines had his best game for the year, Darcy Byrne-Jones continued his good season along with all of Port’s back six on the night, led by skipper Tom Jonas.
Big Charlie Dixon had a quiet night on the stat sheet but it was hit ability to bring the ball to ground in contests when he was outnumbered sometimes three on one that was a feature and proved invaluable to Port’s forward line as they ate up the scraps to put the scoreboard pressure on.
The endeavour and willingness to run and harass was summed up late in the last quarter. The game was already won when Robbie Gray had a choice of going for a 50-50 ball with Dees defender Christian Salem. You could have forgiven Gray for pulling out of the contest to preserve his health when there was nothing to gain from it, but instead he went full throttle, putting his body on the line for his side.
Although he came off second best, it showed Port Adelaide’s mind set that last week was not acceptable and it was clear they made it their focus this week to lay down a marker.
Port Adelaide were as good as Melbourne were bad and I have not seen an AFL side have such bad skills by foot, so exactly how much can be taken from this game I am unsure. But one thing is for certain: Port simply overpowered a Melbourne side who were in good form, winning two out of their last three. They put them to the sword.
The result said more about Melbourne than Port, but take nothing away from Ken Hinkley and his side. With pressure from fans after last week’s debacle, they came out with a vengeance and meant business from the outset.
It was a great night all round from the boys at Alberton. There were winners everywhere, players getting some form back and again they are a game and percentage clear.
Up next are the Western Bulldogs on Monday night at the Adelaide Oval. If Port play like they did on Thursday, it will go along way to silencing the critics.