Main content

Echo of Lion's roar in Port's potent forward line

Jay Schulz and Chad Wingard of the Power celebrate their victory during the 2013 AFL Round 14 match between Port Adelaide Power and the Collingwood Magpies at AAMI Stadium, Adelaide on June 29, 2013. (Photo: James Elsby/AFL Media)
Jay Schulz and Chad Wingard are part of a forward combination that has few parallels in recent seasons

PORT Adelaide's director of coaching Shaun Hart used to feed the Brisbane Lions' triple premiership-winning forward line, led by talls Alastair Lynch, Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw.

It was an insatiable appetite and one the 2001 Norm Smith Medalist and Lions Hall of Famer was only too happy to help satisfy.

Now at Alberton Oval, Hart is developing Port's forward line into a similarly dangerous beast.

The likes of Jay Schulz, Justin Westhoff, Chad Wingard, Robbie Gray and Matt White have proved too much to handle for opposition sides this year.

The Power have averaged 16.6 goals a game this season, just as the Lions did in 2001 and 2002.

But Hart won’t compare one attack to another.

"I used to love playing with the group of forwards we had because we had three talls that were outstanding in Brown, Lynch and Bradshaw," Hart told AFL.com.au

“We had a really good long and direct message and why wouldn't you want to get it in there.

"These days, because opposition teams are leaning towards an extra defender, a lot of goals are fought by getting out the back of oppositions, by getting them up the field and then on a quick break getting out the back.

"In a different era, this forward line at Port Adelaide is really powerful because not only do they understand how to play offence and work together really well, but defensively they are becoming a really formidable unit."

While it was the predictability of contribution that made the Lions' forward line so deadly, Hart says it is the versatility of Port's that makes it hard to combat.

Whereas the Lions depended on their three pillars, Hart says the Power has up to eight players that can hit the scoreboard when their time comes.

Not only do the likes of Schulz, Westhoff, Wingard and White contribute regularly, at their best they are all match-winners.

"The seven or eight players that generally play through there are all terrific players in their own right, so that presents opposition defensive groups with a real dilemma," Hart says.

"It's not like one or two players are probably going to win the game, there's six or seven genuine players who consistently stand up.

"They're all capable of really strong purple patches in games and four quarter efforts and that makes us a great team as a forward line as well as a very dangerous one."

The Power also have more to come from Angus Monfries, who has played just the five games this year for a return of five goals, after kicking 39 last season.

It's that lack of reliance on any individual that Hart credits for Port's blistering first half of 2014.

And he uses the same point to argue why an injury-depleted Hawthorn outfit could still cause the Power real problems on Saturday night.

Many of their stars might be sidelined, but the team's system is still healthy.

"They're last year's premiers, they've got a terrific system, they play high, both offence and defence is sound, so definitely they are equal to any team we're going to come up against," he says.

"I don't necessarily think they have a weakness as such, I think we just need to make sure we bring our very best game."

Twitter: @AFL_Harry

2014 Port Adelaide goal scorers
Jay Schulz 25
Chad Wingard 18
Matt White 13
Robbie Gray 13
Justin Westhoff 10
Hamish Hartlett 8
Ollie Wines 7