Port Adelaide players leave the field after the loss to Brisbane in R15 at Adelaide Oval on June 22, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

AFTER the complete collapse of Port Adelaide's front-half game in the past month, scrapping its way to "ugly" wins could prove the best way out of a form slump that has left the team clinging to a spot in the top eight. 

The Power have lost their past three games either side of a bye to slip from third to eighth ahead of a road trip to face St Kilda at Marvel Stadium and a tricky home clash against the in-form Western Bulldogs in round 17. 

While externally fingers are pointed at each line group and questions asked about the success of a backline recruiting drive, Champion Data stats show the Power have lost control of their usual territory game and unravelled as a result. 

Without the ability to play the game in the front half, the Power's defenders have been under siege, their forwards have been starved of opportunities and their usual scoring sources have dried up.

Midfield coach Josh Carr, whose out-of-form onballers have been beaten at stoppages in each of their three recent losses, this week said that winning ugly could be the solution to getting the season back on track as pressure mounts at Alberton. 

"It's getting back to some basics in the way that we play, starting from the contest and the stoppage, which has been down the last few weeks," Carr said.


"Getting a bit of territory in the front half and getting some good pressure on the footy and making it hard to play against.

"If it means winning ugly, then that's what we'll do to get ourselves going again."

Port's Poor Form - Contest + Territory










Inside 50s



Pressure Rating 



Fingers have also been pointed at the Power players' effort, particularly defensively, with their average pressure differential over the past three matches (-9) reflecting a drop-off in that crucial area of the game.

It's another factor resulting in the Power playing the game in their back half as most of their key forwards run cold. 

Todd Marshall followed up a five-goal performance against North Melbourne in round 11 with a combined 3.4 in the Power's three subsequent losses, while tall pair Jeremy Finlayson and Ollie Lord have each played two of those three games and kicked two goals each.

Jeremy Finlayson handballs under pressure from Josh Dunkley during the R15 match between Port Adelaide and Brisbane at Adelaide Oval on June 22, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Georgiades has proved the exception, booting 10.3 through the Power's losing run. 

The lopsided inside-50 count against Brisbane (71-46) was an extreme example of the team's supply to the key forwards drying up and the lack of high-quality scoring opportunities that are created by front-half turnovers.  

Port's Poor Form - Forward Half




Time in Fwd Half Diff



Fwd Half Intercepts



Points from Fwd Half Intercepts

29 Pts

10 Pts

Carr summed up the Power's predicament when he said: "It all starts around the contest and stoppage and we can fix that and give our forwards a good look at it, but also take the pressure off our defensive group."

The Lions' 23.14 (152) was the highest score conceded under Ken Hinkley in 12 seasons, forcing a spotlight on backline recruits Esava Ratugolea and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher during a three-week period that has seen the Power average 111 points against. 

Both have clearly struggled, and there are separate issues with disposal and decision-making. But it is arguable that most AFL backlines would have failed to hold up under the weight of opposition entries and lack of pressure being applied further afield as opponents feast on stoppage wins. 

Port's Poor Form - Scoreboard




Points For

91 Pts

65 Pts

Points Against

78 Pts

111 Pts

Points from Turnover Diff

+4.8 Pts

-22.3 Pts

Points from Clearance Diff

+7.7 Pts

-25.7 Pts

The Power's reliance on the territory game is clear this season, having lost four of the five games in which they have lost the inside 50 count. When they win the forward-half battle, they are 7-2. 

The midfield is full of skill and polish, but Carr could be right that what is most required now is a willingness to scrap and get the ball going their team's way. With their season on the line, fans are not going to care if it's ugly.