PORT ADELAIDE coach Ken Hinkley says his side hurt its chances of beating Geelong with missed tackles, missed opportunities to clear the ball and turnovers.
Hinkley’s side went down by 21 points at Adelaide Oval in a high-quality game full of momentum swings, including a run of five straight goals to the Cats in the final term that set up the win.
It was Port’s fourth loss this year with all coming against top eight teams, and Hinkley said his side needed to play better for longer to beat the top sides.
“We’re good but we’re not good enough against the best teams in the competition – we’re not going to hide from that,” Hinkley said.
“Right now, we’re good enough to challenge them – the last two games against Bulldogs and Geelong we’ve been close for the most part of the games but we haven’t been efficient or effective enough to win those games.
“Right now, we’re a bit off those teams... We know that we’re capable, we know that we’re good enough when we get it right, but the challenge is to continually work to get it right for longer.
“It’ll be two or three more minutes in our favour and not in their favour and that will turn a game like this.”
Port was punished on the turnover with Hinkley left to rue a host of errors including several turnovers in the defensive half and Geelong intercepts inside Port’s forward 50.
The Cats on the other hand were patient in the build up and quick to open Port up and punish the home side’s errors.
“They are one of the best teams in the competition and they’re capable of doing that to you,” Hinkley said.
“Some of the opening up came from our own issues in terms of turning over the footy and the contest in front of the footy.
“Geelong are as good as anyone on the counter attack. They can get out the back and they’ve got some speed in front of the ball to get going.
“We caused ourselves some problems – whether that be in the contest that we didn’t halve and that’s all we needed to do was halve it, or we turned the ball over when we perhaps shouldn’t have.”
Port lost Todd Marshall to concussion early in the game, meaning he will miss next week’s trip to the Gold Coast under the AFL’s revised concussion protocols, and then Kane Farrell late, but Hinkley said Farrell had taken a “whack” to his ribs and should be able to face the Gold Coast on Saturday week.
Hinkley said Marshall’s injury inside the first five minutes of the game played a part in the loss.
“When you’ve got an intercept marking team against you who rely on getting the ball off you in the air,” he explained.
“Todd’s been pretty good for us in contests. We didn’t fall down in the contest around the battle at stoppage, I thought it was more around the contest in the air and away from the stoppages where we fell down and Todd would have played an important part in that.
“In saying that, we were still good enough to be in front at times.”
One positive, apart from another dominant midfield display by vice captain Ollie Wines was the return to form of dynamic forward Connor Rozee who booted four first quarter goals and finished with five.
The young forward had attracted external criticism, having been held goalless since round 8 but Hinkley was proud of his response.
“If Connor keeps working at his game, he’ll get rewards and he got them early in today’s game and I’m sure he will have taken some confidence out of that,” the Port coach said.
“It’s part of our growth that people like Connor and other players continue to improve. If we don’t improve, we’ll be in the position we are and we are not planning to stay where we are, we are planning to win this.”
Port players and staff now will be required to isolate for 48 hours and return a negative COVID-19 test as part of the exemption granted to Geelong to enter South Australia and play the game.