A DEFIANT Ken Hinkley believes Port Adelaide can still play finals this season, despite the club falling to 0-4 for just the second time in its AFL history following a deflating loss to Melbourne on Thursday night.

The Power were held to their lowest ever half-time score and didn't kick a goal until late in the third quarter as they were comprehensively beaten by the reigning premier at the Adelaide Oval.

It followed disappointing losses to Brisbane, Hawthorn and Adelaide in the first three weeks of the campaign, and saw the club slump to an 0-4 start for the first time during Hinkley's tenure.

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Highlights: Port Adelaide v Melbourne

The Power and Demons clash in round four

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Sydney is the only team to qualify for the finals after an 0-4 start since 1975, doing so from 0-6 in 2017, but Hinkley believes his team can use that as motivation to still progress beyond September this year.

"It means two can," Hinkley said.

"Absolutely (we're optimistic). Why not? We haven't had everything the way we want, but it's a long season. I get that people are going to question my belief, but I'm strong in it. I think we can absolutely move forward and improve quickly."

POWER v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

Port Adelaide looked on track for the lowest final score in its history midway through the final quarter, before booting three late goals to eventually avoid that embarrassing piece of history and also reduce the deficit to just 32 points.

Still without key players Aliir Aliir (ankle), Charlie Dixon (ankle), Orazio Fantasia (knee), Trent McKenzie (knee) and Robbie Gray (health and safety protocols) to injury, Hinkley believes fitness issues are taking their toll.

Aliir Aliir and Charlie Dixon after Port Adelaide's 2021 preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Getty Images

"I think there's some obvious reasons," Hinkley said of the side's disappointing start.

"There are some personnel reasons and there are some challenges around what we're trying to achieve. They're real. The challenges are real. But we've got some people trying to step up.

"I think it was our fifth or sixth debutant for the club tonight already. We can't quite get the continuity of people back, which then can flow into confidence of other players. It's too simplistic to just put it down to one or two things."


Port Adelaide lost reigning Brownlow Medal winner Ollie Wines at half-time of Thursday night's defeat, with the star midfielder substituted out of the contest due to a bout of nausea.

"Ollie wasn't well," Hinkley said.

"He's actually gone off to hospital to be checked. We're being really cautious to make sure he's OK. We'll update you from that once we know exactly what he's dealing with."

Melbourne itself didn't have everything going its own way in the first half of the clash, going well over 40 minutes without a goal before piling on five in the next 11 minutes to completely break the game open.

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Full post-match, R4: Demons

Watch Melbourne's press conference after round four's match against Port Adelaide

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Within that period, the Demons were made to battle. They trailed the inside-50 count at the first change, but defended stoutly as they held the Power goalless to half-time and to just one major in the opening three quarters.

"Our players are really confident in the way they play and they know they can score when they need to score," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said afterwards.

"But, more importantly, they can defend for long periods of time. We saw that again tonight. We won a lot of contests in that first half, we defended really strongly and when we got our opportunity we were able to break the game open.

"That's the power of the group. They can find another level when they need to and in that second quarter they really felt the game and got it on the scoreboard, which was great."