2017: 5th (14 wins – 8 losses; lost in elimination final to West Coast)
Tom Rockliff (from Brisbane), Steven Motlop (from Geelong), Jack Watts (from Melbourne), Lindsay Thomas (from North Melbourne)
Brendan Ah Chee (to West Coast), Jarmen Impey (to Hawthorn), Angus Monfries (retirement), Jackson Trengove (to the Western Bulldogs), Aaron Young (to Gold Coast), Matthew Lobbe (to Carlton)
Million Dollar Question
Can the Power shake the “flat track bully” tag they’ve been attached to in recent seasons? Despite the season ending on such a sour note (it doesn’t get much worse than losing to a goal after the siren at the end of extra time in a cutthroat Final). The Power still had quite a season in 2017 regardless of the fact they didn’t beat any fellow finals, combatants, last year (bar the win over Sydney in round 1). Port will be keen to make up for what felt like a lost season in 2017, after allowing the second least points against with 76, and boasting an average winning margin of near on 9 goals (53.4 points). The fact that the Power finished 5th on the ladder at the end of the home & away season, but also laid claim to the leagues second best percentage with 129.7 (behind only cross-town rivals Adelaide who finished which a percentage of 136) suggests this is indeed a football side that underachieved last season. The elephant in the room at Port Adelaide is that they will not be taken seriously until they start to beat teams around and above them on the ladder consistently.
There’s no doubt the talent is there. Adding a quality player such as Tom Rockliff to an engine room already containing the likes of bull Ollie Wines, first-year sensation Sam Powell-Pepper and captain Travis Boak seems almost unfair. Throw in the likes of former All-Australians Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard and current All-Australian ruckman Paddy Ryder and it’s hard to believe how or why this group of players can’t seem to beat the top sides in the league. The “No Name defense” Port have is certainly one that they can build on in 2018 after only giving up an average of 76 points a game last season. Their offensive game, however, could use work, especially there avenues to goal. The Power kicked 323 goals last season, 6th in the competition, however nearly a third of those were kicked by Robbie Gray and Charlie Dixon, who combined to kick 96 goals between them. Out of the six players who averaged a goal a game for the Power last season (Dixon, Robbie and Sam Gray, Brendan Ah Chee, Chad Wingate and Brett Eddy), two of them are gone (Ah Chee to the Eagles and Eddy delisted). If offseason recruits Rockliff and Watts can help have a major impact on the scoreboard for Port this year, they could be a team to keep an eye on for the race to the top 4.
It’s a real worry when such a talented team like the Power struggle with teams above or around them on the ladder. It’s going to be a tough task for coach Ken Hinkley and the leaders at the club to work out just how they’re going to fix this issue of being able to perform at their best against lowly teams, but unable to beat (or sometimes even compete) with teams around them on the ladder. Statistically, they weren’t a bad team in 2017. They averaged the most inside 50’s per game in 2018 with 59.4, the 7th best efficiency once inside 50 at a 51.2% scoring rate, and averaged 14 goals a game. Throw in the second-best defense (statistically), and it’s difficult to work out why the Power aren’t seen as a bona fide top 4 outfit throughout the league. That heartbreaking loss to the Eagles last September will have sat in the stomachs and minds of all the Port Adelaide players and officials over the summer. The club list managers have had a great offseason, bringing in more talent to make sure those embarrassing losses don’t happen again. If the Power can’t replicate their best form against good teams in big games this season, they may just be also rans again.
One to Watch
The power have a long history of silky smooth indigenous players who turn games on the ability to produce the sublime when needed, and they may have found another in third year halfback flanker Riley Bonner. He may have only played 4 games to date, but internally there are big things expected of the 191cm dashing defender. Possessing an extraordinary mix of size, speed and class, the local South Australian will be one to watch for a long time at Port, if his 22 possessions on debut again the Gold Coast at the end of 2016 is anything to go by.
There’s no reason why the Power shouldn’t have top 4 aspirations. There’s no excuse for a team as talented as Port to not be going deep into September every season while players like Wines, Wingard, Dixon and Robbie Gray are in the primes of their career. With some real top end talent added to such an already well constructed senior list, expect the Power to be there on preliminary final weekend, if not the weekend after.