JEREMY FINLAYSON saw it coming.
While many questioned why Port Adelaide had stumbled to a 0-5 start to its 2022 campaign and pondered how the former Giant was going to fit into his new side’s forward line, Finlayson knew a strong performance both individually and collectively wasn’t far away.
And for those that stuck fat, the faith was repaid in spades on Saturday evening.
The Power finally showed signs of the side that has made consecutive preliminary finals, walloping the Eagles by 84 points at Adelaide Oval, with Finlayson matching his career-best haul of five goals in the process.
The agile big man said it was a great feeling to get back to winning ways, especially at home to reward the club’s supporters after a frustrating start to the year.
“It was pretty amazing,” Finlayson told portadelaidefc.com.au post-game of his first win in Port colours.
“Especially, I think it was 28,000 there tonight, they’ve stuck by us. We’ve been building towards this win
“For me to come from the Giants and then play here in front of such a massive crowd, I had goose bumps walking off.
“To finally get the win, I just want to say thanks to the supporters for sticking by us.”
Despite failing to record a win through five games, Port had played patches of good football in that time, leading Brisbane on the road, pushing Showdown LI to the siren and almost mounting a 50-point comeback against Carlton last week, but was yet to string four quarters together to get a winning result.
For Finlayson, the complete performance against West Coast was the most pleasing aspect of the win, especially the synergy in his own department up forward, with Todd Marshall joining him with a handful of goals for the night.
“I think as talls, our contest in the air is something we’ve been working on,” he said.
“It really clicked tonight and our midfield and backline, our whole team, played really well.
“We’ve been building towards this and I’m super proud of the boys.”
Port was able to wrestle the ascendency thanks to a dominant performance in the middle of the ground.
The Power’s on-ball brigade won the clearance battle 45-33 (16-5 from the centre) thanks in large part to not shirking the hard stuff, winning the contested ball 147-113.
The usual suspects of Travis Boak and Ollie Wines each topped 30 disposals, but it was the continued emergence of Peter Badcoe VC Medallist, Connor Rozee (31 possessions and eight clearances) and Dan Houston (33 touches and a goal) that caught the eye.
“They look like veterans,” Finlayson exclaimed. “I can’t believe how young they still are.”
“To play alongside Ollie and Boaky and take the load off their shoulders a bit, it’s just exciting to see Rose, Butters and Housto run around out there with their ball skills.
“They made our lives as forwards a lot easier tonight.”
The other good news story was the return of Kane Farrell from a knee reconstruction after just nine months on the sidelines.
Finlayson said he had been impressed by the young wingman’s commitment to his rehab program and explained success stories like Farrell’s return to footy were the types of moments that helped bond a playing group together.
“It was amazing, off nine and half months with the knee,” Finlayson said.
“Those stories are something where you really get around the boys because you can see them day-to-day and how hard they work for it.
“It was a pleasure to play forward today and know it’s coming in long.
“It’s amazing to see him back out there.”
While the mood was certainly lifted this week in Port’s rooms post-match, there is no shying away from the hole the club finds itself working back from after its slow start to the season.
Finlayson explained the playing group and coaches will continue to band together and grind away at finding continued improvement in their game.
“We’ve still got things to work on,” he admitted.
“Obviously we’ve just won one game out of six, but we’ll keep working.
“We’ve been very close together as a group. You’ve just got to stick together and move forward.
“We’ll head up to Cairns (to play St Kilda in Round 7) and hit it head on.”