Finals Week 3 – Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs: Out-coached, outplayed, out of the finals.






Expectations, home ground, rest and a healthy team versus travel, fatigue, injuries and not being allowed to train at Adelaide Oval.


The power of motivation for Luke Beveridge’s Western Bulldogs could not be beaten as the Doggies marched into the 2021 AFL Grand Final against Melbourne Demons on September 25.


Western Bulldogs walked all over…and some …over a listless Port Adelaide Power – a side that had all the advantages – all whisked away by the will and want by Bevo’s mighty, snarling warriors.


Led by blue-eyed, blonde and gut-running Bailey Smith (four goals) and equally as energetic yet unheralded ex-Demon Mitch Hannan with three, the Dogs won 17.14 (116) to 6.9 (45) in the second of the lop-sided preliminary finals.


Port coach Ken Hinkley was at a loss as to what had happened.


“This game, you put everything into it, and you give it everything you’ve got … we all work so damn hard to get to where we want to go and it gets ripped away from you, ripped out of your hands,” he said.


Maybe to start Willem Drew on Tom Liberatore would have set a precedent for Port rather than letting the Dogs out so to speak.


Liberatore, while free from Drew, started the joy for the visitors with five possessions in the first eight minutes that resulted in the first two goals.


“There’s nothing more you can say other than you’re totally disappointed,” Hinkley said.


“It’s real and it hurts.


“I’m sure people realise how much it means, but when you’re working in it day-to-day and you’re playing and you’re training and giving everything you’ve got, you just rip everything out of your insides and it hurts for too long.


“We set up to win, we don’t set up to fall short and the closer you get, the harder and more disappointing that loss is.


“You’ve got to wish you can get back here next year and take the chance the hurt is going to be bad again if you get to the same position and lose.”


Aside from Riley Bonner, Ollie Wines and ruckman Scott Lycett, Port had passengers as the rest.


The rot had started for the Power as the Doggies walked out of stoppages and did what they pleased to go 37-0.


The powerful Aaron Naughton was flying for everything and clunking most high balls and he thrashed Trent McKenzie while Josh Schache – one of the two tactical moves with Stefan Martin starting in the ruck – gave no leeway for Port’s intercept maestro Aliir Aliir.


Schache, though not big on statistics, was the perfect foil for Naughton, Hannan and Smith.


He took away what Aliir does best and that is taking intercept marks and setting up Power plays from the back half.


Coaching tick for Beveridge.


The other masterstroke was Martin in the ruck which freed up Tim English and this had a positive snowball effect for the rest of the Western Bulldog forward structure.


None of this happened in round 23 when Port pipped the Dogs by two points in the final few minutes of the game.


In hindsight, it proved the turning point for the Western Bulldogs’ fortunes while the Power’s win in the qualifying final against Geelong Cats perhaps added a false sense of security for the Port players.


That said, there are absolutely no excuses on what Port Adelaide dished on its home deck and that’s taking nothing away from the Doggies.


Captain Marcus Bontempelli (20 touches, two goals) shook off his knee injury concern he sustained last weekend against Brisbane to be instrumental yet again.


Western Bulldog midfielders Jack Macrae was dynamic, Lachy Hunter as industrious as ever and Adam Treloar hit form with his run and carry.


It’s that aspect that will be there in spades for the Dogs and Dees in what is expected to be a cracking decider at Perth’s Optus Oval.


For the Power, yet another off-season looms with more questions than answers from the coaching staff to the playing group.


The statistic that Melbourne Demons were once wooden spooners during Hinkley’s current Power tenure from 2013-21 to possibly becoming 2021 premiers adds to the pain of Port Adelaide being one of Australian sports biggest under-achievers.



Read more from Nick Kossatch HERE



PORT ADELAIDE                 1.1        3.4      5.8        6.9 (45)
WESTERN BULLDOGS         7.2       12.8     14.12    17.14 (116)


Port Adelaide: Dixon 2, Bonner, Houston, Marshall, Wines
Western Bulldogs: B.Smith 4, Hannan 3, Bontempelli 2, Naughton 2, Johannisen, Schache, R.Smith, Scott, Treloar, Vandermeer


Port Adelaide: Bonner, Wines, Houston, Lycett
Western Bulldogs: B.Smith, Macrae, Treloar, Bontempelli, Hunter, Liberatore, Naughton


Port Adelaide: Marshall (hamstring)
Western Bulldogs: Vandermeer (hamstring)


Port Adelaide: Sam Powell-Pepper (replaced Marshall)
Western Bulldogs: Anthony Scott (replaced Vandermeer)


Crowd: TBC at Adelaide Oval




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About Nicholas Kossatch

Tall and intelligent and athletically built who calls a spade a spade. Love sports writing and sending letters and texts to the editor about AFL and the Port Adelaide Power - win, lose or draw. I do not sit on the fence. Soon to be 40! I play basketball and over 35's supers football. Have played amateur footy and a bit of cricket and basketball when living in Adelaide. Do some writing for the Murray Pioneer,


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Perceptive and to the point Kossy.

    Warren Tredrea went online today putting the outcome down to Port’s lack of mental preparation. Some old bloke called John Cahill agreed with him.

    Maybe Port could get on the blower to Collective Mind. They’ll sort them out one way or the other.

    I’ve also seen some Port supporters mystified because they “played so well against Geelong only a fortnight ago” as if Geelong is any sort of benchmark.

  2. george smith says

    At least our boy Adam Treloar played well and is in another grand final, after the way he was treated at Collingwood. Congratulations Adam and good luck – I hope like other apostate Magpies, you can see your way back to our mob one day. They all come back, except Warwick Irwin.

    As for Port, time to take a good hard look at yourselves. Some coaches, like Nathan Buckley, are doomed never to win a flag. In Ken Hinkley’s case it seems he will never make a grand final – lord knows he’s had enough chances. All the usual top liners – Dixon, Lycett, Motlop and Fantasia failed, so I don’t really know whether another ruckman or forward would help. Need to not panic, the talent is there, but is the heart and soul?

  3. Boak and Gray have been wonderful footballers but time certainly seemed to have passed them by in the midfield. Can your young guns Rozee, Butters and Duursma step up?
    Naughton’s commitment to run back into defence to provide a link was telling. His defensive marking was better than up forward. The top 2 sides have the best athleticism – strength, speed and endurance – by miles.
    Ports aren’t far off, but the missing pieces – like a mirage – seem to vanish the closer you get.

  4. Final point is well-made Swish.

  5. I couldn’t believe what I was watching on Saturday night. The Dogs were irrepressible. The Power were a shadow of the variety that I expected. I can’t work them out, and neither can Ken.

    90% of football must be half mental.

  6. Before the big game, everything was in Port Adelaide’s favour, no traveling back and forth, home ground advantage and a team of champions that were cherry ripe for success. Well the inexplicable happened. The underdogs came out breathing fire and smashed them so much so Port was POWERless to stop the onslaught. Coach Hinkley, who before the game was so confident his team would take this season’s Flag, was completely non plussed and had no answer. The Power fans, known over here as “The Ferals” were strangely quiet and many left in disgust at three quarter time. I must, in all honestly, confess I was truly delighted to see them humbled so easily and look forward to a most exciting Grand Final between two very attacking sides, Demons v Dogs, should be a real rip snorter..

  7. I was sitting there on Friday wondering how on earth Port, or anybody, was going to beat Melbourne. Or at least not get embarrassed…. Think the Dogs will give them a good run though.

    As for Port, my mob, we were out played and outcoached in my view. It also gets back to a long held beef of mine in recruiting. We do not seem to recruit enough strong framed, big players. Rozee, Butters and Duursma are all very well, but get pushed aside too easily, just watch as the TV camera zooms up at a ball-up, the Port bloke’s opponent is almost invariably bigger. Geelong had that advantage, but are too slow now. Blokes of the build of Wines, Dangerfield and half the Dogs team are needed.

    I am not in the sack-the-coach camp, that is a bit trite, but I reckon he has no more than 2 years to at least make a GF. Think some players and maybe a coach or 2 may have been drinking their own bathwater too. Too easy in your home town with the media giving you so many free kicks before the first bounce.

  8. Drew not on Libba was interesting to say the least,Gray shouldn’t have been in the midfield rotations at the start may be last q not otherwise.Kossy for Port I reckon the 1 solace is the young kids in Rozee,Butters and Duursmaa definitely have enough ability to become gun midfielders.Likwise Marshall and Georgiadis ability is not the question- mental weakness is the huge question mark – thanks,Kossy

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