Round 12 – Carlton v Port Adelaide: Saul of Tarsus, a bumpy road and the miseducation of Ken Hinkley

Carlton v Port Adelaide

June 20th, 2015

RD 12

MCG, Melbourne


Carlton scored a rare milestone on Saturday afternoon; their first win on Aussie soil in months, many months. And in doing so, in front of a pitiful number of fans, consigned Port Adelaide to a dog fight just to make the finals in 2015.


As good as Carlton were Port were bad, really bad. In fact, apart from a last-ditch effort in the last 15 minutes this game may go down as Port’s road to Damascus moment in 2015. And not that good road, but the gravelly crap one that people tend to avoid. There was no Saul of Tarsus, and no Christianity to save the Port fans who pray at an entirely different altar called Alberton Oval.


Port are now in serious danger of missing out on a finals birth after a pre-season that contained so much hope. Something (and I’d like to think I can put my finger on it) has gone terribly wrong at Alberton. Something rotten, and perhaps not easily fixable.


So let’s work through this in order of problems (and order of my annoyance)…

* Port got ahead of themselves over summer, believing they’d simply have to turn up in 2015 to both make the grand final, and then win the premiership. Neither will happen now. This was fuelled by an eager media, Port Adelaide fans and the club themselves.

* Losing Phil Walsh to the Adelaide Crows robbed Port of one of the finest tactical brains in the AFL. His replacement, Michael Voss was a fine player, but a failed senior coach. Enough said.

* Port’s good run with injuries last year was the main reason they could keep a balanced side out on the park week in, week out. This year they have lost Wines, Polek, Ryder, Trengove and White for extended periods. It’s hurt.

* Ken Hinkley and his coaches have had an average year. Dropping Young, a player who has been able to make things happen for Port was a mistake.

* The rookie list nonsense has meant that Nathan Krakouer has only played sporadically. A crime. Currently, he is Port’s most assured and skilful player.

* Port aren’t fit enough. They can’t sustain a four quarter hard running effort. Whatever miracles worked last year have dried up. Time to reassess.

* Port’s skills aren’t up to top four standard. This is partly because of the extra pressure the team are putting on themselves, let alone the opposition.

* The team has been ‘worked out’; the fast carry, run at all costs football of 2014 has been reduced to stop-start, working the boundaries type of football. Partly because the opposition haven’t allowed them to use the centre as much as 2014, but partly because there was a subtle change in their game plan at the start of the year. Time to drop it for the rest of the season. Effective immediately. If you’re going to lose, at least do it with panache.

* While Port’s defence has been very good, led so well by Alipate Carlile and the much-maligned but effective Jasper Pittard, their forward line has been average. Not enough defensive pressure meaning too many easy outs for the opposition. Simply put, they haven’t worked hard enough.

* Captain Travis Boak is having an average season, seems frustrated and not willing to remonstrate enough with the opposition player when one of his team mates hit the dirt. He’s the captain. He has to lead by example. When Robbie Gray was knocked out by a deliberate and illegal tackle (Bryce Gibbs’ first in five years of football and sole contribution for the game), Boak and other senior Port players did not do enough to let Gibbs know it was a low act. And Boak should have been the one to lead the charge at Gibbs at the first contest he was involved with in the third quarter. Gibbs had to go…and he didn’t. I blame Boak.


On Saturday against Carlton all of these things became all too obvious. Winning on the weekend actually wouldn’t have done Port any favours. Especially if they had kicked a late goal they’d threatened and won by two points. That simply would have sugar-coated the real issues.


What would have done them more of a favour would have been to get a thumping. Carlton deserved to win, idiotic umpiring aside (they didn’t affect the result), and they probably deserved to win by more.


At the post-match press conference, Ken Hinkley again took the softly, softly approach. I think those days are over. His performance this year has been a mixed bag. Some strange coaching moves during games, and the omission of certain players raising some eyebrows at Alberton. He’s had two years of what most would call a dream run. Granted, the team have been successful winning three out of five finals. But, not all that glitters is gold. Season 2015 has provided Hinkley with his first serious challenge on a day to day coaching level. Has he coped? Has he responded well to the adversity the club now finds itself in? And more importantly, has he expressed to the wider AFL population the frustration Port fans are feeling? Not always.


Port now have a week off to soul search, re-charge and to try and find a way back. It’s a long way back. In two weeks’ time Port travel to Sydney to try and beat a team they rarely do, on a ground they loathe and play poorly.


It will be an almighty effort from here for Port to make the final eight. It isn’t impossible. But on the evidence of the first 12 rounds of 2015, unlikely and undeserved.






  1. E.regnans says

    Good spray Cuttysark.
    Reckon you got most of them with that.

    I wondered at the time what impact P Walsh’s departure might have. Group dynamics are funny things. Losing a key ideas man and voice may upset the whole applecart. It’s easy to imagine.

  2. Dave Brown says

    It was the perfect mugging on the weekend, Chris. The Power got mugged by Carlton and the umpires (although not deliberately on their part). I reckon you’re around the mark with your analysis, although the fitness must be between the ears – Burgess no doubt would have reams of data to show his players are as fit or fitter than last year. As a club Port Adelaide has always been in danger of its play not matching its mystique. I think that’s where they’re up to at the moment. No doubt some simple strategies to block their ball movement have been implemented by most teams.

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