Did Port Adelaide really believe their own hype?

After a 2-0 start against mediocre teams, when the Power came up against a premiership contender, they were found wanting.

Port Adelaide has been torched by the media and fans alike after their 37 point loss to the West Coast Eagles on Saturday night. Many have said that Port got “ahead” of themselves after their wins over North Melbourne and Essendon to start the year.

It was Port’s first real test to see if they were one of the premiership favourites and it was a test that they failed badly. I myself did not watch the game and how it unfolded but scrolling through my social media accounts the knives were out for Ken Hinkley and his side after their horror show in the west.

Rather than Port believing their hype about their chances, Saturday night’s game had a familiar feel to it. This is a performance that the Power has in them at least once a year. Last season they were 4-0 heading in the Brisbane clash at the Gabba and much like the Eagles game, Port was smashed in just about every facet of the game.

In 2019 it was their round 22 clash with North Melbourne, a match they had to win if they wanted to keep their slim finals chances alive and what happened? An 86 point thumping happened behind 10 goals from Ben Brown. So Port does this kind of performance in their kit bag and usually reserves it for the most inopportune time. It was a chance to say to the rest of the competition that we are to be taken seriously and now they are forced again to show that they are indeed a premiership fancy.

They are going to have to prove it against a Richmond side who put in a similar effort against Sydney so the Tigers will be out for blood when they come to Adelaide Oval on Friday night.

I can’t speak for other football fans, but I think we are nearly all in agreement that we can handle a loss. Sometimes it is just not your day, the opposition is just better but the willingness to run and help and support their teammates is there. You can see the endeavor. You can not fault the effort and you just have to sit back and say look the guys gave it their best shot, it just was not our day.

The flip side of that is when you get beaten but there were no signs of effort, leadership, or cohesion within the group which by all accounts happened on Saturday night. That is something that gets fans riled up the most, me included. We can take a loss when you can see the effort but according to many on Saturday night, there was little to no resistance in the first half as the Eagles banged on 10 goals to Port’s two.

The only consolation is that at least Port won the second half by kicking nine goals to four but in reality, West Coast simply took the foot of the gas I’m guessing. I was surprised with the team changes too. I thought Port went a bit too tall with Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiades, Peter Ladhams, and Scott Lycett but perhaps that was to combat Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass.

Marshall finished with three goals while Georgiades booted two of his own but when the game was there to be won according to many, Marshall faltered, and Mitch went the other way. Now I did not see the game, so I am just going off what I saw on my social media.

West Coast dominated the middle of the ground with Nic Nat at the forefront of it. They had more disposals, 17 more inside ’50s, and went at 80% disposal efficiency which is crazy.

The Eagles won every stoppage stat, smashed Port in contested possession (something Port prides itself on) and had fewer turnovers. They had 54 more marks than the Power which shows that they controlled the game and did as they pleased.

Some media personalities have said that they are not worried about Port’s performance and I tend to agree with them. One match doesn’t define who you are as a football side (in North’s case it might) but what it has done is again put pressure on Port to show that they are the real deal when Richmond comes to town. Should they put in another performance as they did on Saturday night then you can only imagine the fallout. It is a showpiece time slot on Friday night so the whole football world will get to see exactly what Ken Hinkley’s side is made of.

It was only one game, but Port beat up the smaller teams and got found wanting against West Coast. One thing you do not want to be known as is flat-track bullies and should Port get blown away by the Tigers then all of a sudden they will be talked about as just a top 8 side, not a premiership contender.

Friday night has a lot riding on it, not for Richmond as they have enough credits in the bank to warrant a mulligan however the Power don’t, they need to show something.

Will we see the side the pushed the Tigers in the preliminary final? Or will it be the team that got smacked on Saturday night? We wait with anticipation.

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