Two wins from two have Port Adelaide sitting top of the pile after two rounds and it is hard not to be excited about what the team can do this season.
Yes, the opposition they have faced is most likely bottom in terms of talent and game plan, but we will get a better idea of how far Ken Hinkley’s men can go after their next fortnight when they face West Coast and Richmond.
But for now, let’s just focus on the two matches we have seen. The 52-point thumping of North Melbourne was rather routine after a sluggish start as Port banged on eight goals to one in the second term which effectively ended the match as a contest.
The Power went at 70% disposal efficiency for the match, had a whopping 60 inside ’50s and they were a much better-balanced side going forward. Gone are the days where Charlie Dixon is the focal point of all of Port’s forays forward.
Ozario Fantasia proved his worth with a four-goal debut, while Todd Marshall, Zak Butters, Steven Motlop, and Travis Boak ( all two goals) gave Port numerous avenues to goal.
In season’s gone by Port would simply bomb the ball on top of Charlie and expect him to out mark two or sometimes three defenders. However now with the likes of Fantasia, Robbie Gray, Zak Butters, Steven Motlop, Conor Rozee just to name a few, all of a sudden Port does not need to rely on Dixon to kick winning scores.
The defensive side of Port’s play is another strength. The addition of Aliir Aliir could be the signing of the season for me. His presence down back allows Tom Jonas and Tom Clurey to go about their business and not have to provide cover for others as Aliir patrols the entire defensive 50 like a champion.
The delivery inside 50 has been another standout in the opening two rounds for me as well. Dan Houston, who I touted during the Essendon match as the best kick in Port’s side (was echoed by Chad Cornes) and is the best player at delivering the ball inside 50 in the competition as he has produced two absolute gems so far.
The match on Saturday against Essendon was essentially a training drill for the entire match. Port had 62 inside 50's (60 in R1) and went at 76% disposal efficiency and did as they please.
Up forward, Mitch Georgiades was sensational with four goals after being a late replacement for Todd Marshall. Charlie Dixon also kicked four with Steven Motlop, Orazio Fantasia, and Peter Ladhams all booting two goals each.
Ollie Wines did his thing again with 38 touches and Zak Butters was out of this world with 36 touches and a goal. Defensively again Port was sound with Jonas and Clurey doing their thing, Miles Bergman again had a solid game without being outstanding as he looks comfortable at the level, Aliir again marshalled the defence and was a constant brick wall every time Essendon went forward.
To top it off, Dan Houston again delivered another delicious pass inside 50 to find Charlie Dixon along with his well-taken goal off one step from 40 metres out as even the defenders got in on the action.
A fun fact about Port Adelaide over the opening two rounds, they have only been behind for 4 minutes and 57 seconds which is astounding but given the sides they have faced that will not last long. It will be hard for Power fans to contain their excitement after the opening two games but in reality, they were teams we were expected to beat and beat well.
The next fortnight presents Port with a true test of their credentials as there is a significant difference in class with the teams they will face. Both West Coast and Richmond have been in the top three or four sides in the competition over the last five years and Port will get a good measure of just how good they are.
Either way, it feels like Port has turned the corner somewhat. With expectations comes pressure and Port was widely expected to be 2-0 and now they are expected to win one of the next two, if not both.
Can they do it? They certainly seem better equipped than in previous years to stake their claim as one of the competition’s big boys.