Power breeze past Suns in season opener
Port Adelaide boss Ken Hinkley is shooting for the stars this season but there is substance behind the hype.
Port's 47-point season opening win against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium featured many elements missing last campaign.
Port's tackle intensity unsettled the Suns. Hinkley's men routinely brushed smaller bodies aside for a decisive 40-point halftime lead.
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Quick hands, urgency, fluency, gut running and first-half efficiency inside 50 were sometimes lacking in 2019 but improved collectively in Port's season opener. However, the defensive excellence of Darcy-Byrne Jones, Tom Jonas and Ryan Burton continued.
The only blip for Port was a scoreless third quarter when injuries to Hamish Hartlett (thigh) and Brad Ebert (knee) pegged back Port's run and dominance.
Port won't want to be without experienced Hartlett, Ebert, Charlie Dixon and vice-captain Ollie Wines for next's Showdown against Adelaide.
Port has a boom group under 22 to equal any in the league with Zak Butters, Connor Rozee, Xavier Duursma and Mitch Georgiades. The oldest of the cohort Todd Marshall is poised to come of age this season. Port's pick No. 16 of 2016 had played just 13 games over the past two years but the fact he fronted in any is the mark of great character after monumental family loss.
Port believes Marshall is on the cusp of delivering on his key forward potential and his first half goals and workrate underpinned that belief. Port's transition and entry inside 50 was slick in contrast to Gold Coast. Port was employing effort running with Marshall conspicuous at both ends of the ground.
Debutant Georgiades was pick 18 in last season's draft but looked accomplished in senior company booting goals and backing into traffic with no fear.
The Western Australian forward was mobbed by teammates when kicking his maiden goal and followed with his second in the fourth term from an immaculate mark and set-shot. Hinkley said "get used to him jumping" and there's plenty to look forward to for Port fans.
Rozee booted Port's eighth entering time on of the second term which was just reward for nine touches to that point across half-forward.
Steven Motlop went MIA managing just 14 games last winter but a resounding pre-season earnt a recall and Hinkley's faith.
The enigmatic forward snapped his first goal and Port's second from trademark crumbing as the Power punished the Suns inability to convert. Motlop's thumping tackle on Will Brodie forced the turnover that allowed lighting quick Rozee to set-up Marshall for Port's third. Motlop didn't have the engine or display the intent last season to get to contests and impact that was evident from the outset against the Suns.
Motlop has always had the capacity to be a showstopper but the Power hierarchy will be more pleased watching him dish out assists for Rozee's deserved goal before halftime. If Port is going to return to finals and challenge for the flag its coach desperately needs then Motlop's application is crucial.
Veteran Brad Ebert feared before the season he was no longer in Port's best 22 but spearhead Charlie Dixon's injury enforced absence meant Port played a small forward line which suited the greasy conditions. Ebert was impressive in attack with a goal until incurring an apparent medial knee strain.
Tom Rockliff's (26 touches) future had been clouded by multiple shoulder surgeries but wracked up the possessions with a slimmed down frame.
Travis Boak was Port's engine room driver with 25 touches. The former skipper keeps getting better with age providing a sure hand the Suns lacked.
LONG ROAD AHEAD
The Suns pinned Port in its own half early on but didn't cash in on attacking forays until second year forward Ben King booted the host's first. That was as good as it got for the Suns.
When Robbie Gray drew the Suns defence to provide Ebert an open shot on goal before quarter time, Port's maturity, ferocity and structure amounted to an ominous headache for Stuart Dew.
Midfielder Hugh Greenwood toiled manfully but needs more back-up than Touk Miller. Brandon Ellis's grand final glory last September contrasted with an empty Metricon Stadium in a struggling unit.
Glamour rookies Noah Anderson and Matthew Rowell held their own but face a sobering first year initiation.
Ben Ainsworth's third term run on goal was significant for a side that needed someone to make something happen.
Originally published as Power breeze past Suns in season opener