Round 2 – Adelaide v Port Adelaide: Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Pressure – Hinkley’s Lament

Adelaide v Port Adelaide

April 2nd, 2016

RD 2

Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

 

It’s not a crisis. Only Melbourne, St Kilda and occasionally Eddie McGuire’s trousers have those. But Ken Hinkley and his comrades in arms at Alberton are on the cusp of at least a minor crisis. Yes, we’re only two rounds in, but crisis’ don’t pick and choose their time. Port’s is now. Here’s why…

 

After two rounds of the 2016 AFL season Port’s defensive game plan is weak and penetrable. Against St Kilda they got away with it, because their forwards and general team quality surpassed the Saints. Against the Crows on Saturday they had no hope. Adelaide were too good, the second Showdown in a row where the desire and hardness at the ball was far better than Port’s.

 

Port were terrible, their pressure on the opposition ball-carrier was poor and their defensive pressure and structure flawed. That’s a real issue going forward. Two weeks in a row teams have scored easily against Port – the sorts of over-the-back goals that you see in Under 11s footy. Half of Port’s team on Saturday barely had a touch. Apart from the two Gray’s, Ebert and ‘Captain Risky’ Pittard, Port had no winners. And those three came in and out of the game. It was a most un-Port Adelaide effort and performance, and places some not unfair pressure on Hinkley and his coaching staff to turn things around.

 

Hinkley, and I’m playing devil’s advocate now, has really only had one good season in charge of Port; 2014. He took over at the start of 2013, and Port responded by making the finals. But just about any new coach would have had a positive impact on Port in the summer of 2012/13, considering how low Port were at the time. Pride alone kicked in, and demanded that the club lift its game on and off the field. They did. They continued that climb in 2014, but took a serious backward step in 2015. The fans expect a response, and so far in 2016 that response looks confusing.

 

Hinkley will be aware that his peers and some media folk have already placed him squarely in the ‘under pressure’ pile for season 2016. That adds pressure. Port Adelaide fans expect success every season, more pressure. And no doubt Hinkley’s own high standards and a desire to be successful adds extra pressure too. Port looked woeful on Saturday against the Crows, and face an Essendon team this Friday night buoyed by an unlikely victory when all and sundry suggested (stupidly) that they wouldn’t win a game. To lose to the Bombers in Adelaide will be a disaster for Port, and set their season back dramatically. With a good opening draw Port needs to be sitting 6-2 as a minimum after eight rounds. A loss to Essendon doesn’t factor into that positive equation.

 

And after all the hope that the 2014 season threw up for Port and AFL lovers, hope that Port would progress last year to a grand final and maybe a premiership, the Power now find themselves well and truly in the middle of the pack. What’s needed is a four quarter effort this Friday night.

 

And time. Time to see if Hinkley can pull a couple more tricks out of his coaching book. Or time to see if Hinkley and Port are simply one-trick ponies, who got lucky two season ago. The clock is ticking, even two rounds in.

 

CHRIS MICHAELS

 

Comments

  1. Disagree about 2013 – Hinkley had serious work to do to restore confidence and instill belief. That’s two good years from three.

  2. Any new coach that arrived then would have made an impact.
    Port were so low that pride alone meant a better season.

  3. Dave Brown says

    Share your view, Chris. Port’s ball movement was worked out last year and Plan B was lacking. I have seen nothing to suggest that has changed. One note though – Port are trying a new, and very high, forward press. They can sometimes take a few weeks to gel. If teams are still easily breaking your lines in three weeks then I’d hit the panic button.

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