Why frustrating port proof forms can be fraudulent

With a 4-5 record after nine rounds, Port Adelaide is one of the most disappointing teams in the AFL in 2022.

If ever we need an example of how prevalent recession bias is in the AFL media, Port Adelaide’s four-game winning streak has somehow saved the club from criticism, as it improved to an undefeated opening five rounds.

This is another chapter in the story of a team that somehow managed to shake up the “pretender” tag that was previously achieved through the low-opposition regular-season extinction and a very average record against the finalists.

The legitimacy of such a label can be argued against – the club’s fans have had a minor premiership and two preliminary finals in the last two seasons, which is a source of great pride and a really good achievement.

Yet there is the truth of their bad record against good team and performance against bad team. It was rarely popular to rate the club as disappointing due to the high placement, but the 71-point initial final loss to the Bulldogs in 2021 was not entirely shocking either, which is a complaint for all parties.

Nothing, really, than Ken Hinkley, who was under incredible pressure after that particular performance. The next pile was simple and easy, but the first pile was foolish.

Nonetheless, criticism flew in from all over, even from power fans.

An interesting one for Hinkley – this is his 10th season in charge, showing five final appearances and three preliminary finals. In 2014, they lost by three points to the final Premier. In 2020, it was a six-point margin.

Why Hinkley
Power coach Ken Hinkley speaks to the media during a press conference (Photo by Daniel Kallis / Getty Images)

He led them to the final in their first season (2013), their first appearance since the 2007 grand final.

Although strategically, Port Adelaide’s performance in the Crunch match over the last two seasons has been a strange combination of inspiring and safe, yet unbelievable that a win is on the table.

This goes back to the starting point we made, in the fact that the power was absolutely disappointing, but not under the microscope because they have won a few together.

Port Adelaide couldn’t prove anything in 2022, which makes it weird why we basically accepted where they sat after a short run-on.

Ironically, the best footy they played was in the second half of the loss to Carlton, where they came from the clouds for an almost incredible comeback.

It was the most free-flowing, daring football Port has seen in recent times and hints at a rare positive change in tactics and positional moves from Hinkley, but was probably at its peak at the time.

The winning streak the team carried on was the same as the previous season – they have beaten the two worst teams in the league, beaten a Bulldogs out of the top eight and of course the Cents.

Many might hang their hats on that win, the Saints lost just one game at that point, but that win was less successful in the loss battle and stumbled on the line in the worst game of the season.

If that sounds like too much dismissal, it doesn’t give the credit enough that the port went completely out of playplay in the first half, to somehow reach the heights in the second half.

Still, the most colorful part of that game was the gray in the port kit that night.

So now, after nine rounds, Port Adelaide ranks 10th on the ladder of 108.8, which is largely indicated by their performance against the helpless opposition.

Tom Jonas of Port Adelaide is leading his team after their huge defeat to Hawthorne.
Tom Jonas of Port Adelaide is leading his team after losing their huge Round 2. (Photo by Mark Break / Getty Images)

We have the right to look at the team from the simplest point of view if we want to, because power always emphasizes victory and defeat.

Before the start of 2022, the match that presented itself for Port Adelaide would indicate that the team would win at least six of their first nine games.

A winless opening five rounds at the time with games against Adelaide, Hawthorne and Carlton was absolutely unimaginable. Jordan Dawson will show fans nightmares for next year.

Reality is the best source of truth and the truth is, no one can be happy with the way Port Adelaide has gone this season.

Injury, like the other team, is a factor. For the port, many would believe that they were particularly limited.

The main two are Ali’s three games missing, and Charlie Dixon’s absence to date. The influence of Scott Lyceet around the ground is often exaggerated and has been replaced by the much better Tap Rockman, when Trent Mackenzie made a bad start to the year and who knows if Orazio Fantasia’s body will ever give him a good crack.

Ali has only experienced a slight regression in his defensive numbers, yet the rating is above average overall. However, his intercepting numbers have dwindled and he rarely delivered the double-threat he posed in 2021, leaving him an average of three less disposable with worse efficiency.

The team lost 72 points in 48.1 out of 50, compared to 67.8 in 47.5 last season. We know St. Kilda also kicked 4.18 against them.

They have been easy to score in the 50s and their opponents have averaged about 400 meters more than last season, indicating that Power is not defending more direct ball movement.

Offensively, Port Adelaide averaged 13 points (second place) per game this season (16th) to 8.8. The accuracy in front of the goal has also been completely reversed, when they are averaging a full seven points less per game, which is probably influenced by the Saints game.

These drop-offs have a direct bearing on Dixon’s absence, marking one of AFL’s best rivalries in 2021 and one of the most accurate shots on target.

Yet another source of the 31-year-old key forward relying on an injury-plagued past with just 23 goals in 15 games against top-six teams in his last two seasons, which has dropped to 17 in his last 14. Great concern about energy.

Given that they’ve just managed a couple of injuries is particularly disturbing.

The positive aspects of the 2022 disappointment are Connor Rosie’s midfield move, averaging 25 settlements in the last five games, five dismissals and four out of 50, where Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiads have had really good hands.

The best season of Dan Houston’s career is underway, with Sam Hayes finally making his debut and getting better, when the ball could be closer.

But overall, four consecutive and somewhat conceivable victories cannot and should not excuse this club, exempting them from their criticism a month ago.

But the beauty of fixturing is that now is the time where Power and Ken Hinkley can prove their relevance in 2022.

They will face Geelong, Richmond, Sydney, Gold Coast and Fremantle in their next six matches. If Port Adelaide really wants to turn their season around and provide a real reason for optimism, they win these four games and build a position. This seems far more unlikely than possible.

If the best fans can expect to make it to the finals, the club has dropped its most important stakeholders.

Not to be confused with a few wins, Port Adelaide has been the league’s most frustrating team in the first nine rounds of 2022.

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