PORT ADELAIDE defensive coach Brett Montgomery is backing the side’s team defence to counter the scoring threat posed by Brisbane on Saturday night.
The Lions booted 10.23 on Sunday against Adelaide after 10.14 against West Coast last week, showing they are creating plenty of scoring opportunities.
The third-highest scoring side in the competition will come up against a Port Adelaide team which has both the most miserly defence and the highest scoring offence, and Montgomery says it’ll be another challenge his side will embrace.
“I’m not sure about the biggest test, they’re a different threat than we’ve faced so far,” he explained during a press conference on the Gold Coast on Monday.
“We play a Brisbane team that is an enormous scoring threat. I think they’ve gone close to having 60 shots in two weeks.
“They’re clearly playing the game in a manner that allows them to score so it’s a different threat. They’re a great team, they’re going to be up and about at the pointy end.
“It’s a great challenge and it’ll be a fantastic way to finish what has been a really positive experience (in the hub) for us.”
Port Adelaide is starting to see some reward in 2020 after being the side that conceded the fewest inside 50s and had the most inside 50s in the competition in 2019, but failed to make the most of it on the scoreboard.
Port is averaging just 36.5 points against so far this season and Montgomery explained that it was team defence that was paying dividends, not just the work of the backline.
“They are an incredibly mature, great chemistry-type of group,” he said.
“They get along like a house on fire – there’s no doubt about that – but they are under no illusions the beneficiary of an incredible team defence at the moment that’s functioning really well.
“It’s taking 18 men to get it done and we’re getting some great reward.
“There’s no doubt that scores are down but supply is right down as well so to be able to hold teams to 30 or low 30s inside 50, that’s a feather in the cap of every player to buy into that and again off the back of that we’re getting some good looks to kick a score.”
As for the high-scoring forward line, Montgomery said a lot of work had gone into improving the supply in the off-season.
And while it was working so far, he said there was more improvement to come.
“We do know that we limit score, which we did last year but we didn’t finish where we wanted to and we go inside 50 a lot, again we didn’t get the results we wanted so we knew there was work to be done in front of the ball and that’s sometimes personnel, chemistry, method and I think we’ve chipped away at all of that,” Montgomery said.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily out of the woods just yet but you can see it’s a work in progress and we’re starting to see some of the rewards.
“There’s a whole lot that goes into that, a lot of hard work, that’s for sure.”
Much of the success in scoring can be put down to Port’s mix of talls functioning well together and hitting the scoreboard.
Charlie Dixon leads the Coleman Medal race with eleven goals from his three games after six goals on the weekend, but Justin Westhoff has seven in four games, Todd Marshall six and young Mitch Georgiades chipped in with two in his only game in Round 1.
“There’s a real want for the game to have players like that playing well – big targets, big exciting power forwards and we’re committed to that. There is no doubt that preparation plays an enormous part in this game,” Montgomery said, explaining Dixon’s success in particular.
“There’s probably not a lot between some of the talent in the competition but preparation – Charlie’s got that this year, whereas last year we really felt for him.
“We threw him in there, he had limited preparation, he was sore and he gave it everything he had, it just wasn’t at the level we needed it to be and it didn’t really help him or us.
“We’re seeing a really fit, happy, healthy Charlie Dixon off a great prep. The game needs and wants big power forward to be everything you want them to be and I think he’s just having a great patch.”
Montgomery revealed defender Ryan Burton was pushing for selection, just two weeks after minor knee surgery, starting with training tomorrow.
And he said the side wasn’t looking too far ahead, citing the example of the change in this week’s fixture because of limitations on Victorian clubs travelling into Queensland.
The 2004 Premiership defender indicated that Port Adelaide would plan for Saturday night’s game at the Gabba and remain nimble with whatever challenges and changes come next.
“To a man, everyone’s embraced what it is that’s in front of us,” Montgomery said of the team attitude.
“Day to day has been outstanding. The weather helps and winning helps even more.
“We’ve got a really upbeat positive group that’s enjoying what it is that’s in front of them. Clearly you can see that in the way we’re playing – it’s reflected in the style and the energy with which the guys are playing so, so far it’s really working for us.”