AFL

2018 Season Preview – Port Adelaide

Port Adelaide Power

2017 Recap

Port Adelaide are an interesting case study when you consider the team’s ability to look incredible one week and terrible the next.

In 2017, they owned the “flat track bully” tag. They dominated against the bottom teams, winning by at least 10 goals in six matches against bottom five rated teams.

On the flip side, the Power’s only wins against top eight sides throughout the year came against the Swans in Round 1 (who lost their first six matches) and West Coast in Round 16.

Despite playing finals, it was a relatively disappointing season for Port Adelaide all things considered. Barely putting up a fight against fellow finals teams is embarrassing enough, but the “pretenders” label being justified just adds to it.

Jack Hombsch took a big step backwards last season and is now on the outskirts of the best 22, while Jasper Pittard had a down season as well. Improvement is required from these players in 2018.

The positives came from Paddy Ryder and Charlie Dixon, who re-established themselves as top players in the league for their respective positions. Dixon had a fantastic season and was a consistent performer in general, while Ryder’s return after 12 months off was nothing short of spectacular.

 

Best 22

FB: Darcy Byrne-Jones – Tom Clurey – Tom Jonas

HB: Hamish Hartlett – Dougal Howard – Jasper Pittard*

C: Jared Polec – Tom Rockliff – Brad Ebert

HF: Jack Watts – Justin Westhoff – Steven Motlop

FF: Robbie Gray – Charlie Dixon – Chad Wingard

R: Paddy Ryder – Ollie Wines – Sam Powell-Pepper

INT: Travis Boak – Sam Gray – Matt Broadbent* – Karl Amon

EMG: Riley Bonner – Dom Barry – Jack Hombsch – Jack Trengove

 

Best 22 Analysis

Pittard and Broadbent will both miss the early parts of the season, opening up the door for the impressive Riley Bonner and Dan Houston to cement their spots in the best 22

Port added a lot of talent in the off-season, with Tom Rockliff, Jack Watts and Steven Motlop joining the club. Of course, there is an element of risk with these additions, as each player has had issues at their previous clubs in the past. If it works out, however, Rockliff is a top 10 midfielder in the competition, Watts can kick 35+ goals and Motlop is the most damaging half-forward flank in the league. It is a risk worth taking.

The defensive concerns will need to be addressed, although it can be a relatively quick fix. Tom Jonas should be able to return to playing on medium-sized forwards, with Dougal Howard’s quick emergence as a strong key defender with elite spoiling ability. His height and reach is a powerful weapon for the Power and should help the team defensively, especially with Tom Clurey likely to follow the opposition CHF.

Key Games

Round 2 vs Sydney @ SCG

If Port is the real deal this season, this will be a fantastic match. While they won this match in the opening round of 2017, there was a completely different feel about Sydney. This could set Port Adelaide up nicely and give Dougal Howard some confidence if he gets to line up on Franklin.

Round 8 vs Adelaide @ Adelaide Oval

The first Showdown of the season is crucial for both teams. The Crows were the dominant team of 2017 and a clear class above Adelaide. Port Adelaide has a real chance of evening up with their rivals this season and a positive result here would boost the club’s chances of doing so.

Breakout Player – Riley Bonner

Bonner just needs regular senior game time to prove how good he can be coming off half-back and playing on a wing for Port. The 21-year-old is a fantastic kick and is attacking with his use of the ball, which is what the Power needs in their team. Expect Bonner to be an important part of Port’s best 22 by year’s end and become a premium fantasy option.

Fantasy Gold – Tom Rockliff

Who doesn’t love a bit of risk in fantasy? At his best, Rockliff is the best fantasy player in the competition. AFL Fantasy/Ultimate Footy is his game, where he averaged 135 in 2014 and 129 in the first two months of last season, when he was playing as a full-time midfielder. Rockliff could be the best value option we’ve seen in years.

Prediction – 2nd

This isn’t the first time I’ve had Port Adelaide finishing high up on the ladder and it didn’t quite work out last time. The squad depth at the Power is much better this season and the club will have worked hard on sharpening up defensively in the summer months. Moving a little past Adelaide isn’t out of the equation.

 

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