Ken Hinkley's side are unbeaten at home but when they travel, they have been brushed aside by West Coast and Brisbane.
Just seven games into the season, Port Adelaide are sitting third on the ladder at 5-2. At home Ken Hinkley’s men have been unstoppable, smashing Essendon and St. Kilda while just getting over the line against Richmond.
However, it is on their travels where Port has been shown up. It is not the losses that matter to an extent, but it is how they have lost which is a major concern.
Against the Eagles, it was put to Port as a true test of their premiership credentials and one that they failed and failed badly. They were never in front during the match, they got beat up around the ball, losing the contested possessions 153-135, the Eagles won every clearance stat and had 85 more marks than Hinkley’s side in a commanding 37 point win.
Question marks were raised in the aftermath that Port were not serious contender and given it was only one game, they got a bit of leniency. Richmond was up next and what a colossal battle that was albeit at home, but they got the win to re-affirm their top-four status.
Then easy wins over Carlton and St. Kilda followed but yet there was still a nagging feeling that despite their win over the Tigers and having a 5-1 record, Port did not really play a side in contention. Hence why Saturday night was so important. Coming up against a Brisbane side without Lachie Neale, it was a chance for Port to again stamp their authority as a top-four side even without Travis Boak.
Unfortunately, the match went basically along the same lines as the loss to West Coast. Port was bullied, got outworked, was out hunted, and simply just didn’t look at the races at all. Again Hinkley’s men got smashed in contested possessions 154-133 and went at just 34% efficiency inside 50, amassing just 20 shots on goal from 58 entries.
The games against West Coast and Brisbane were eerily similar and no matter which way you look at it, Port does not come off looking too good. Now it is only seven games into the season so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater but Port Adelaide’s form away from home is a serious concern.
West Coast and Brisbane are both notoriously hard to beat at home at the best of times and Port has found that out the hard way. They were brushed aside and bullied by two teams who brought the heat and Port simply couldn’t handle it.
Ken Hinkley was as ever honest in his post-match analysis of Port’s performance on PTV:
“My words were that it was a simple message that we need to be better. Start with me and the players and look at where can I be better, what can I do better to be more consistent in a big game,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“We were nowhere near our best and the opposition were at their absolute best with what they were trying to do.
“You don’t want that reminder but you get those (in the AFL). We’ve been a pretty consistent footy team for a period of time and it just reminds you that you have to stay at that level all the way through.
“You’d rather not get them (lessons) but AFL football says you’re not going to get 22 weeks the way you like it.”
There were only a few positives to come out of Saturday night’s result and in particular Ollie Wines (37 disposals 1 goal, Willem Drew (32 disposals a career-high 1 goal) and Miles Bergman (19 disposals 1 goal) who was solid all night. Aside from that is was slim pickings from a Port Adelaide side who were torn apart.
A performance like this certainly raises questions about Port Adelaide’s ability to challenge not only for the premiership but top 4 among some media outlets. Personally, Port Adelaide is a top-four side without a doubt but with performances like the one on Saturday night, they open themselves up to the criticism which at this point is fair.
With two home games to come in the Showdown and the Western Bulldogs, Port can go one of two ways, re-establish themselves as one of the premier teams in the competition, or fade back into the chasing pack. However for Port to be taken seriously, they need to fix their away form and quickly.