PORT ADELAIDE coach Ken Hinkley says it is too simplistic to say his backline was to blame for Tom Hawkins’ dominance in Geelong’s ten goal win on Friday night.
Hawkins booted six goals and caused plenty of headaches for the Power defenders in a match-winning performance on the Gold Coast.
The Cats led for the whole night but put their foot down in the last quarter with seven goals to one, and Hinkley said his side allowed them too many clean forward entries.
“To Geelong’s credit… they were just dominant,” he said after the game.
“We had a really strong performance last week, we were ready for this week but we just didn’t play with the energy that you need and the hunt.
“Geelong were so much better than that. They were well organised and they’ve been in pretty good form.
“It’s a bit of an outlier for us tonight but we have to look at it, we have to debrief it pretty closely and see how well the opposition did things to us that we don’t enjoy.”
Hawkins took ten marks, seven of them contested, to stamp his dominance.
He appeared too big and too strong for the Port backline to contain but Hinkley said it was more complex than that.
“Hawk had a big night but it’s really simplistic to look at it and say he won his battle – he certainly did that – but we know that’s a result of what goes on up the field as much as anything,” Hinkley said.
“If we get more pressure on the ball, Hawk doesn’t get the looks at it.
“Our backline needs support, like every backline does if you’re going to be effective and that’s by putting pressure on the ball up the field. If you get open looks like that, quality players can do that.
“It was around our pressure and hunt around the ball that was allowing them good looks with their shoulders out and with plenty of numbers.
“We felt like we had plenty of opportunities around the contest but they just were cleaner and they were able to strip us and run away with the ball.”
Hinkley said the most disappointing take-away from the night was his side’s lacklustre showing in the final quarter which saw a 24-point three-quarter time margin become 60 points.
“Geelong gained total belief in the game and they were just running all over us and we weren’t able to hold them up enough,” he said.
“That was equally disappointing because you can lose but you shouldn’t get cleaned up in any quarter.
“We were in the game – as silly as it sounds – we were three or four goals down, and then by the end of the game to get beaten by ten goals is really disappointing.”
Despite the loss, Port remains top of the ladder as it prepares to return home to Adelaide to face Hawthorn in a Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round match.
Hinkley said his side would need to take some learnings from the game and move on pretty quickly, with plenty of games to come.
“We’ll learn from tonight, we have to learn from tonight,” he said.
“We’ll come back and keep working at the season. There’s still five or six games to go.
“It’s a really unusual season. You’re going to have some poor performances.
“We’ve been lucky that our poor performances have been well spaced and we still sit on top of the ladder so we’ll have to keep on working.
“There’s still a season, there’s still plenty of games to play.
“If you want an opportunity you’ve got to chase it and we want an opportunity so we’re going to keep chasing it.”