Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley spoke to the media after the game…
Q: Ken, your barometer held true again. When you had contested possession against them you put up a score. When you didn’t, they put up a score.
A: We know where we are at, we are clear, we are good, not great yet. We are in the build of getting there. We got great information again tonight. It’s consistent information. We are really clear that’s a positive. The negative is we have still got to get to the other level.
Q: What are you seeing in that information?
A: I think it is consistent information. You said it, when we are OK in the contested possession we are challenging to any team. But when we come up against the best teams who are identified as the best teams so far, they have been able to be a bit stronger for longer. We improved tonight. Tonight was a step for us I thought as far as our previous two losses. We have been done from the start. But I thought tonight we showed real courage to come back and go again. Then compete. With four minutes to go, eight points (down) we are defending a goal line ball we perhaps should have got over the line. I know we definitely should have got over the line and they kick a snap. Small margin, a game of nearly two halves.
Q: What did you find difficult this time in turning an intercept into a score where you’ve been so good at it before?
A: That’s again part of the story, the consistent story that we see. They were able to win more big balls in their front half. I think eight contested marks and we took four. That’s the small margin of a great game of footy, of high quality teams. You’ve got to win most of those battles, whether it’s at each end, whether it’s around the contest. Whether it’s in transition of offence or defence. You’ve got to win most of those. You are certainly not going to win all those battles against good teams, but you’ve got to be a nose in front I think.
Q: Is it a mindset thing, that it happens three times in those really big matches?
A: I’m not sure what you mean.
Q: Is it something the guys aren’t coming out maybe not fired up enough or something? It’s the first quarter against West Coast, first quarter against Brisbane, first quarter against the Bulldogs tonight. Is it a mindset do you think? How do you explain it?
A: I explained that the opposition were better and stronger in each of those games and started much stronger. Good thing tonight is we showed we were capable of fighting a way back and getting back to a point where we were in front. We were down five or six goals. We found a way to get back. I take your point that we have been poor against those really good teams, most of the time the other two times on their home deck. Tonight we were put to the sword again, but I find the upside is what we have seen we needed to get better. We put it in place in the second quarter. This is a high quality team. We are a good team, they have probably got – the ladder would say they are eight and one, we are six and three. It’s pretty accurate.
Q: Did you say much at quarter time to get the response from the players?
A: The players recognised what most of the issues were. We made some structural changes, but they were really mindful of the fact they had started poorly in those previous two games and they wanted to be able to make some correction. I thought they showed a significant step forward being able to do that, albeit we lost.
Q: Peter Ladhams was given an opportunity and grabbed it with both hands.
A: I thought he was really strong. Probably a good match-up. We both had a younger ruck. I think the ground level support, they outnumbered us more in that area when it comes to winning the battles. I think Pete probably got better of the ruck battle but they probably had more ground winners.
Q: Tom Clurey in hospital?
A: Looks like a broken jaw, but as soon as we get that information, hopefully Tom – Tom was speaking, but it was a whack right in the front face that might put him in significant doubt for a little while.
Q: Do you have to temper expectations a little bit now?
A: No, we are capable of being a great team. We have shown that, that we are a good team. But to win the whole comp you’ve got to be a great team. At the moment we are improving to become a great team. We are working really hard to be that and I’ve got great confidence we can be that team by the end of 2021. No doubt. These are just moments where you get a chance to reset, have a look, explore and see what you need and understand what you need to do. We know exactly what we need to continue to work at. Be different if I didn’t. If I was sitting here going “I’m not quite sure”. The team and myself are 100 per cent certain on what we need to do to become great.
Q: Hard work on the training ground, is that the number one thing?
A: We have got clear information that suggests we need to work on certain areas. It’s great you have got it, disappointing you have to still keep getting it. If you don’t accept your reality you are probably not going to get where you need to go. We understand where we are at.