As impressive as Port Adelaide were during their last quarter onslaught against St Kilda in Round 1, there are still concerns over their disposal efficiency and game plan.
The Power’s run to the 2014 preliminary final was based on their clean disposal from the back half but they failed to replicate that last year – and once again last week.
A third of St Kilda’s score at three-quarter time came from turnovers, with stars Hamish Hartlett (41.7% disposal efficiency), Charlie Dixon (45.5%) and Travis Boak (58.8%) some of the key culprits.
Port Adelaide also lost the clearances 61-44 and the hit-outs 67-48, giving coach Ken Hinkley further concerns, even though they emerged victorious.
While Port’s ability to kick winning scores – enhanced by the arrival of Dixon – and win clearances in heavy traffic is unquestioned, their turnovers will be costly against better sides.
They’ll need to improve from their Round 1 showing if they are to play finals in 2016.
The Weekend Preview
Hawthorn don’t like losing, but they’ll be without skipper Luke Hodge and many others for the Grand Final replay against West Coast. The Eagles are fresh off a cruising win over Brisbane and will be full of confidence – this should be a cracker.
Most at stake
Fremantle lacked their usual defensive pressure in their Round 1 thrashing and Gold Coast looked a different team in their win over Essendon. Having Gary Ablett and Dion Prestia back is big but Freo are still easy favourites to beat the Suns.
Melbourne were very impressive against an inconsistent GWS and against the patchwork team that is Essendon, they’ll be two-from-two (for the first time since 2005) on Saturday evening.
The Blues may have showed plenty of promise against Richmond – but their improvement won’t continue against the Swans. John Longmire’s men thumped Collingwood in Round 1 and will win big again.
One to watch
The Blues will certainly struggle against the Swans, but Patrick Cripps looks primed for a huge year after a strong Round 1 showing. Very interested to see how he copes with a likely tag on a night that is sure to be tough.
It’s one of the hottest topics in footy at the moment – and we’ll be watching closely to see if the new deliberate out-of-bounds interpretation is applied as consistently as it was in Round 1. It will only infuriate footy fans if umpires relax on it a bit this weekend.
Feeling the heat
Greater Western Sydney’s forwards made a meal of their shots on goal in their loss to the Demons, kicking 10.18. They not only missed easy goals but regularly butchered the ball and ignored better options. Veteran Steve Johnson and his team-mates need to lift if they are to beat a Patrick Dangerfield-inspired Geelong.
Forward Jonathon Patton is surely in the mix to feature for the Giants, with the 2011 No.1 draft pick kicking five goals in a NEAFL practice match last week. Seems a likely inclusion.
Who will be the new umpires boss? A certain premiership midfielder, recently retired, reportedly has his hand up to replace Wayne Campbell as the head of AFL umpiring.
Don’t set the IQ
The Cats are up and about – as evidenced by their win over the Hawks – and they’ll show the footy world how serious they are with a big win over the Giants. This one could easily get nasty.
James Fitzgerald also writes for www.footyprophet.com – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.