Round 3 – Port Adelaide v Essendon: The peloton’s caught up.

Port Adelaide vs Essendon at Adelaide Oval – The peloton’s caught up.

 

Dan Hansen                                                                           

 

It must have been a tough week for Ken Hinkley. After a 10 goal non-competitive loss last week the knives many have been sharpening for the last few years came out. The media, talk-back radio and social media were all asking if Hinkley game plan has been unravelled. However, I don’t think his game plan was much of a secret and countering was not difficult. It just took time.

 

Hinkley inherited a young bottom of table team and came in with a relatively simple game plan. Prior to taking over the game was at its most congested and Port’s previous coach, Primus, tried to play slow deliberate possession football. It didn’t work. Hinkley (together with fitness coach Burgess) came in and brought the team’s fitness to a new level and increased the tempo of the game. One or two short passes, usually into the corridor, and then long kicks over the top. Run, run, run and run.

 

During 2013 and 2014 Port Adelaide regularly outscored their opponents late in quarters. Port qualified for two finals series and went into them with nearly full squads. In 2014 they nearly pinched a Grand Final berth and if their list was a little bit better may have even pilfered a premiership. Like a cyclist breaking from the pack in the Tour de France, for a couple of years Port had the jump on the competition with regard to fitness. There would have been players from 17 other clubs cursing Hinkley and Burgess during the last few pre-seasons but eventually the peloton caught up with Port.

 

The introduction of the interchange cap appears to have caused Hinkley to change his game plan. Port are pushing up the field more than ever and unfortunately the opposition are going over the top of the defence and scoring easy goals.

 

This brings us to tonight’s game. Port Adelaide playing on Friday night usually engenders a bit of eagerness but this was a “nothing-to-gain-everything-to-lose” game. I was feeling quite nervous before the opening bounce. Essendon, to their credit, took the game on early and played reasonably aggressive attacking football. Port took control and as the first quarter progressed slowly extended their lead. By quarter time had opened up a six goal gap. From this point, Worsfold went into damage control. Playing several players behind the ball, ably led by Goddard, Essendon slowed down the tide of goals but never looked like threatening a comeback.

 

The last three quarters were lacklustre and with the exception of Robbie Gray most of Port’s regulars were playing within themselves. There was some good news though. The players who copped the most post-Showdown criticism, that is Polec, Toumpas and Dixon all played themselves into a bit of form, and there were no injuries. The bad news is Port no longer outscores their opposition late in quarters and the peloton has well and truly caught up. Unfortunately for Essendon they have many of their strongest cyclists missing. They could be in trouble when they hit the Pyrenees.

 

 

 

PORT ADELAIDE      7.3   11.5    14.8   17.10  (112)

ESSENDON               1.4     4.6       4.7     7.9      (51)

 

GOALS

Port Adelaide: Young 3, Dixon 3, Amon 2, R Gray 2, Westhoff 2, Boak, Ebert, Polec, Byrne-Jones, Wines

Essendon: Daniher 2, Kommer 2, Ambrose, Goddard, J. Merrett

 

BEST

Port Adelaide: Gray, Polec, Young, Broadbent, Pittard, Dixon

Essendon: Goddard, Zach Merrett, Zaharakis, Leuenberger, Kelly, Fantasia

 

Official crowd: 44,601

 

Our Votes: 3 Gray (PA), 2 Polec (PA), 1 Goddard (E)

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Dave Brown says

    Good news, Dan – Rooch has declared everything is fine at Alberton now after that win

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Danny precise and spot on could not agree more a huge 8 point game this week

  3. King of Passion says

    This year more than any other it’s about hanging on to the peloton and having everyone fit for the final sprint. It is going to be a bumpy ride!

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