Another season away from finals action for the Power means another long offseason. With plenty of good wins in 2019 Port might have been able to sneak themselves into finals action had they not given up some shockers. Bad losses to Fremantle, the Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne and Adelaide cost them dearly. Port’s new crop of draftees were brilliant and easily the standout of their season, with Rozee, Duursma and Butters all having the potential to be stars.
What Went Right?
The afore mentioned three draftees became an instant sensation, with Rozee going as close as one can to winning the Rising Star Award without actually winning. All three of them played consistent footy throughout the season and showed off their good footy brains. All three possess speed and solid foot skills that made them dangerous throughout the season. They all gelled well into an experienced team, and this balance of experience and classy youth made Port Adelaide a dangerous side when they were at their best.
Port’s ability to cause huge upsets also held them in good stead, with the club knocking off Essendon, West Coast and Melbourne away from home, whilst also beating Geelong and Adelaide in critical games. The fury and class the Power brought to their wins, particularly against the Cats was admirable and exciting to watch.
What Went Wrong?
Throughout the year Port Adelaide struggled to understand who its best ruckmen were and how they should best be used. Scott Lycett, their ex-Eagle big fish was inconsistent at best and played maybe three stunning games all year. Paddy Ryder and Dougal Howard seemed to be their next best thing, but even they fell victim to the Power’s numerous and ridiculous team selection worries. Every single week a different and sometimes downright strange Power team was named on the team sheet, sometimes one ruckman, sometimes three, not including the genuinely talented Justin Westhoff. In the end it was this uncertainty that saw Ryder and Howard leave Port Adelaide and both end up at St. Kilda. Not only that however but Port received damn near nothing in return, completely bungling their chance of getting a half decent trade in.
Now, the Power are left with Lycett and youngster Peter Ladhams who will shoulder plenty of responsibility in the event that Lycett were to be injured. This ruck problem may continue to linger at Alberton for a while, and in the draft I would imagine Port will look to pick up some ruck depth to aid in their already depleted stocks.
Round 14 vs Geelong @ Adelaide Oval
Port Adelaide- 9.13 (67)
Geelong- 8.8 (56)
After coming off a bad loss against Fremantle in Round 13, Port Adelaide’s Round 14 win against Geelong was anything but expected. Down only for the first few minutes of the game, Port quickly established a buffer of approximately 15 points, which is where this stayed for most of the match. At the time, Geelong were ladder leaders and looking near invincible, before Port Adelaide brought them back to earth with a fantastic 11-point win. Scott Lycett, Travis Boak and Robbie Gray were the main standouts, with Ryan Burton, Connor Rozee and Dan Houston also chipping in with solid performances. Not only that, but Geelong stars Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan had big games too, but the Power were still too strong around the contest and particularly in defence, restricting Geelong to just eight goals, something not many teams could even come close to in season 2019.
Port’s massive upset was lauded across the AFL, and many believed it would recharge their season and provide them the push to resume reaching for a finals berth. In the end however, the next week’s performance would be a disappointment, as the newly invigorated Power side would be restricted to just five goals by a Bulldogs side charging up the ladder.
Conor Rozee not only finished second in the Rising Star Award, he also played a key role in the resurgence of young players at Alberton. Port Adelaide had been short on excellent young talent for some time before the likes of this man came to the fore. With an excellent football brain for a young player and great skills that will be a terrific foundation going forward, Rozee was beyond impressive in his first season. Rozee averaged 15 touches, 3.5 marks and four tackles a game, and finished with 29 goals for the season. His continual contribution around the ground saw him gain status almost immediately, with plenty of respect from around the league appearing for this young man who is certainly going to excel.
It’s difficult to give anything higher than a C- for any team that misses finals. Tenth place will haunt Port Adelaide and 2019 could have been the year they broke back into finals contention. In such a tight competition there will be so much at stake once again in 2020, and this club will be eager to prove it has something to show.