PORT ADELAIDE suffered its first loss of 2021 on Saturday night when it went down disappointingly to West Coast at Optus Stadium in Perth.
The Eagles started strong with the opening four goals of the game before running out 37-point victors.
Here are some key things we learned from the game.
1. Beaten in the contest, beaten on the scoreboard
After the disappointing performance, Port coach Ken Hinkley said his side was a good side when it played its game, built on hunt, aggression and pressure on the ball. But much of that was missing in Perth when Port went down in some of the key indicators. Port lost the contested possession battle 152-135 and gave West Coast too much time to possess the ball uncontested, finishing down 270-211. Despite being just down 32-30 in the hit-outs, Port was smashed in the clearances 41-27 including 19-10 out of the centre. Those numbers translated to the scoreboard with the Eagles’ 57 inside 50s to 40 proving telling.
2. Marshall and Georgiades can fit in the same forward line
Leading into the Round 3 game, many of the questions being asked about Port Adelaide surrounded whether young tall forwards Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades could fit into the same forward line. They did and it seemed to work. With much of the defensive attention going to Charlie Dixon, Marshall was able to grab three goals and Georgiades two to provide 45% of their side’s total score. Most telling was a passage of play where Georgiades smothered the ball off West Coast defender Shannon Hurn, which led to a goal to Marshall.
3. Second half fight back
The margin was 52 points at half time and Port was being beaten up around the contest all over the ground. Coach Ken Hinkley implored his side to show some fight and it did after the main break. With Ollie Wines and Travis Boak leading the charge in the middle, Port won the contested possession count in the second half, having trailed by 23 contested possessions at half time. Both Wines and Boak finished with 26 disposals, 16 of those were contested for the former and 13 the latter. And, after Oscar Allen’s goal in the third minute of the third quarter took the margin out to 58 points, Port made the scoreboard more respectable, kicking eight of the next 13 goals to finish 37 points in arrears.
4. Lycett’s strong start to the season
A lot will be made of the ruck work of Eagle Nic Naitanui but Scott Lycett was huge for Port Adelaide against his former teammate. Lycett had 24 disposals to Naitanui’s 26 but won several other stats including having more disposals 13-11, more marks 4-1, and more metres gained 360-193. It’s been the tale of the start of the year for Lycett, who is averaging some elite numbers. His 15.7 disposals is ranked as elite and above his 12.5 disposal career average. He is also ranked elite against other ruckmen for hit-outs to advantage with 9.3, well up on his 5.3 career average. Across his 111 matches, Lycett has averaged 19.4 hit-outs and in 2021 he is averaging 26. It’s been a strong start by the big man.
5. Port’s ladder leading streak comes to an end
Port Adelaide famously sat top of the ladder for the entirety of the 2020 AFL season. It went top after beating the Gold Coast by 47 points way back on March 21, 2020 and after big wins over North Melbourne and Essendon to open the 2021 campaign, Port had kept its place at the top. The loss to West Coast on Saturday has seen it slip down a few rungs and ended what was the fifth longest streak at the top of the ladder in VFL/AFL history. According to stats guru @sirswampthing on Twitter, Port fell just a week short of moving into fourth on that list.