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Hammer blow to Port's finals hopes

Football

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley will look to the future after the Power's finals dreams were all but dashed by Greater Western Sydney.

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The Power’s 19-point loss to GWS late yesterday leaves them three games shy of eight-placed North Melbourne with clashes against Sydney and Adelaide to come.

Hinkley insists he hasn’t ruled out an unlikely finals berth but says he’ll challenge his side’s fringe players to prove they deserve senior opportunities.

“We’ll go in every week and give (ourselves) the best chance to perform well and hopefully keep looking at opportunities to see our list develop and see what players are capable of improving,” he said.

“I’m not giving games away. We want to make sure that you earn a game and we’ve done that with players this year.

“Anyone that’s ready to have a go and put their hand up and shows that consistently. week-in, week-out. I think that’s the key.”

Among those considered will be small forward Jake Neade, young midfielder Karl Amon and defender Nathan Krakouer, who was suspended by Port Adelaide for five games over a nightclub incident at the start of the season.

Ruckman Matthew Lobbe and wingman Matthew White will also be assessed after recovering from long-term injuries.

Lamenting his side’s inability to match it with the best teams in the competition over four quarters, Hinkley admitted there were no easy answers.

“You just keep working. You keep going at it,” he said.

“You keep trying to develop your list to get them better. That’s what every club is doing. That’s what we’re doing every week.”

The Giants overcame a lacklustre start at Adelaide Oval to prevail 11.13 (79) to 9.6 (60).

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Giant Steve Johnson breaks away in the wet. Photo: Michael Errey, InDaily.

The record-breaking 12th home-and-away win propelled GWS to second on the ladder and one step closer to securing a home final.

It looked at first like the combination of wet and blustery conditions, an experienced and physical Port outfit and a small but hostile 29,735 crowd would prove too much for the young Giants, who managed just two goals to halftime.

But GWS surged to life in the third term, booting four consecutive majors during a 10-minute stretch that would prove to be game-defining.

The tough Giants’ midfield brigade looked simply unstoppable and finished comfortably ahead in the contested possession count, delighting their coach.

“I thought it was our best win for the year because our boys found a different way to win,” Leon Cameron said after the game.

“We’ve improved dramatically in our contested side of it this year. Some good sides have beaten us in that area over the year.

“But I just thought it was a really great solid effort from all 22 that participated. That to me shows that a club wants to go the extra yards.”

Cameron said ruckman Shane Mumford would have tests on an injured knee after hobbling off the ground in the dying minutes.

The 199cm veteran was matched early by a valiant Jackson Trengove but wore the smaller man down as the game went on, laying 10 tackles to go with 49 hitouts.

His outstanding second half proved a major spark for the Giants’ young midfield brigade of best-on-ground Dylan Shiel (28 disposals, two goals), Toby Greene and Stephen Coniglio.

Now three games shy of eight-placed North Melbourne, Port look almost certain to miss out on playing in September.

Coach Ken Hinkley said his side’s performance had followed the same frustrating pattern as many of their losses to the competition’s best teams.

“We’re OK and we’re in it for bits but when they stepped on the pedal we weren’t able to keep going with them,” he said.

“I think it’s across the board against those teams. They’re able to step up a gear. When they step up we’re not able to stay with them.”

Tough midfielder Brad Ebert was a rare shining light for the Power, booting four goals and gathering 19 disposals despite copping a hit to the back of the head which opened up a massive cut.

Star onballer Robbie Gray was excellent in his 150th game, booting three goals and gathering 25 touches.

-AAP

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