What Went Right?
When they were winning, Port were winning dogfights. With an impressive midfield unit, they were often dominant around the contest, and leveraged that advantage to win low scoring games (it makes you wonder why they went away from that and played a more free-flowing game at the end of the year)
Their defence was magnificent at the start of the year, as they often won low scoring games. It was a young defensive group too, to get experience into those guys and see them stand up to it was impressive.
Their experienced campaigners across the rest of the ground also had good seasons for the most part; Gray, Dixon, Wingard and Ryder all were impressive for long stretches.
What Went Wrong?
A late-season collapse was behind the Power’s absence in September this year, as they threw away their post-Round 16 Top 4 spot by losing six of their last seven games. What fuelled that downturn? Despite consistent dominance in the contest, the Power were often hurt by skill errors and inefficiency inside 50
Paddy Ryder’s injury-plagued season (he played just 16 games) showed an overreliance on his presence in the Ruck. Charlie Dixon is able to fill the gap well, but the forward line suffers without his presence (it’s no coincidence that Dixon was injured halfway through the third-last game and the Power lost all three
For either Adelaide side, the Showdown is where it’s at. This year they were two dramatic contests, that were split at one apiece. In Round 9, the Power came out 5-point winners, with Steven Motlop’s last-minute goal stealing it for Port Adelaide.
The Power were behind for the majority of the first half before a third-quarter surge put them in front. Adelaide hit the front briefly in the last quarter before Motlop collected the ball out the back of a forward 50 stoppage and snapped a brilliant goal.
Robbie Gray was exceptional, kicking six goals and winning the Showdown Medal for best-on-ground, as Ken Hinkley won his first Showdown.
Robbie Gray split duties between midfield and forward this year, whilst being equally devastating in both roles. He ended the year as the side’s leading goalkicker (36), and despite spending so much time as a forward, had the second most clearances (86), and second most contested possessions (220) in the team.
Gray is the side’s most crucial and dynamic cog and showed that in numerous occasions. The highlight was his match-turning six-goal performance in the Showdown, but he was often amongst the best for the side.
Improvements for 2019
The power will be major players in free agency once again, with an ageing list that might have missed its window. The club is the favourite to secure the services of ruckman Scott Lycett, who’s currently plying his trade at the Eagles.
Lycett will be a valuable deputy to Paddy Ryder, who’s needed help in the ruck; Lycett’s also shown that he’s not deadweight around the field, playing in a two ruckman system with Nic Naitanui for the majority of this year. They’ll also lose Jared Polec, as the wingman is set for a big-money move to Victoria; replacement for him will need to be found.
While you don’t expect the list to develop hugely, the club will certainly be hoping to get more out of the recruits they signed a year ago. Motlop was the only one of the three with consistent impact, both Rockliff and Watts had below par years
The Power are likely the year’s biggest disappointments. They were rated as flag contenders before the season, and not even making finals is a massive blow, especially when they were in the Top 4 as late as Round 16. They went all-in last year, and to get nothing out of it is hugely disappointing. – F –