PORT Adelaide could live to rue Sunday’s shock nine-point loss to Fremantle at Optus Stadium, with coach Ken Hinkley conceding his team had "messed up badly".
Gunning for their sixth straight win with a raft of challenging assignments to come, the Power consistently missed targets by foot and looked largely devoid of method heading inside 50.
The defeat sees Port fall to fifth place, when a win would have had them in third ahead of Collingwood, which lost to West Coast at the MCG earlier on Sunday.
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Among the Power’s next six opponents are GWS (home), Adelaide, West Coast (home) and Collingwood (away) while the Bulldogs (away) and Essendon (home) have shown a penchant for causing upsets on their day.
"We came here with an opportunity and we messed it up badly," a frustrated Hinkley said post-match.
"We say every week – if you don’t play at your best, you’re going to get in trouble no matter who you play. Well that’s exactly what happened. We didn’t play anywhere near our best today and we got in trouble.
"We blew an opportunity but someone in the competition’s doing that every week.
"It’s our week to blow it and we’re really disappointed – we’re really angry – that we blew that opportunity, but we have."
Port Adelaide was down on rotations for most of the game after injuries to Paddy Ryder (hip flexor) and Robbie Gray (concussion).
While the Power matched their opponents for intensity, Hinkley said his players lacked the endeavour required to overcome the odds stacked against them.
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"I didn’t probably see that – the endeavour," he said.
"Endeavour is a full game, not just part of the game. Endeavour is your skill, is your ability to finish and hit the scoreboard.
"That’s your responsibility as an AFL player. You’ve got to be better than that and we certainly weren’t better than that today."
Hinkley said that even before Sunday, the club was aware it remained a distance from its peak.
"In hindsight you probably say we haven’t been at our absolute best," he said.
"We’re winning these games and we’re happy to get through them but we knew we weren’t absolutely playing anywhere near our best.
"I’ve been saying, I think our best football is still to come.
"After today, I’m bloody hopeful it is because if not, it’s going to be a tough finish."