Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley called it a little step, but his defeated Geelong counterpart Chris Scott made the big call.
“If the general football public think that on the back of six rounds Port are a genuine contender, I wouldn’t argue with that, by any stretch,” Scott said.
Port inflicted Geelong’s first loss of the season on Sunday, crushing the Cats by 40 points – 16.11 (107) to 9.13 (67) – at Adelaide Oval.
The Power sit top of the table, on percentage from Hawthorn and Geelong, but Hinkley isn’t having any talk about being flag fancies.
“People will want to mark us on the start of the season which has been really strong … it puts us in a good position,” he said.
“But we have to defend that now … great sides like Geelong and Hawthorn do it all year and we have still got to do that.”
Hinkley and his inspirational captain Travis Boak reckon heightened expectations on Port are irrelevant.
“We don’t control the outside expectation … we expect ourselves to turn up and play well and be brutal and hard and ruthless in the contest,” Hinkley said.
Boak concurred, saying Port’s lean recent years ensured players won’t be swept away by the hype.
“A lot of this group has been through a hard time, the seven or eight years that we have been through has been pretty tough,” he said.
Boak was best-afield with 32 disposals, 10 clearances and two goals as Port produced their Sunday best to blitz the Cats.
Boak had a superb support cast: Kane Cornes gathered 33 disposals while restricting Geelong’s prime mover Joel Selwood to just 17 touches; Port’s Robbie Gray (20 disposals, 10 marks, two goals) was influential; his teammate Chad Wingard slotted three goals.
Midfielders Brad Ebert (28 possessions) and Hamish Hartlett (29 disposals) were damaging and Matthew Lobbe (32 hit outs, two goals) ruled the rucks.
The match swung in the second stanza when both sides had five scoring shots: Port kicked 4.1 and the Cats managed just five points – Scott described Geelong’s waste as demoralising, but kept the defeat in perspective.
“One game is not a disaster at all,” Scott said.
“We made some real blues in the coaches box, in preparation a little bit but also not reacting to certain things.
“If I had to chose one or the other right now, I’d be saying it’s more my fault than the players.”
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