Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley hopes this frenetic, freewheeling AFL footy is here to stay.
After Port’s comeback 33-point victory against St Kilda in a Sunday shootout, Hinkley welcomes the all-out attack of the opening round.
“I don’t mind the game being fast and frenetic,” he said after Port’s 20.13 (133) to 15.10 (100) win at Adelaide Oval.
“I do mind giving up scores.”
Hinkley’s much-fancied Port took some time to shake a spirited St Kilda who, inspired by ruckman Tom Hickey (57 hitouts, 20 disposals), played with great dash for three quarters.
But after leading by 21 points deep into the third term, Saints coach Alan Richardson accused his players of losing their dare, and subsequently losing the game.
“There was a game that was up for grabs,” Richardson said.
“Port Adelaide went to another level and we didn’t go there. We fumbled, we didn’t cope with the pressure.
“We just lost a bit of dare.”
In contrast, Port cashed in on wildcards Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard and trump recruit Charlie Dixon.
Gray slotted four goals in his influential 26-disposal display, while Wingard (three goals) produced moments of brilliance.
Onballer Brad Ebert (three goals, 25 touches) and Sam Gray (37) were prominent, and former Gold Coast forward Dixon did what he was recruited for – booting 3.3 and adding menace on debut for the club.
“He’s 60 minutes into his season as far as game time (entering) today so he was always going to be a bit underdone,” Hinkley said.
“But by the end of the game, 3.3, and the amount of score we got from his contests was exactly why we brought him here.”
Port’s victory before 44,807 fans came at a cost to fleet-footed Matt White, who hurt a right pectoral muscle.
White will have scans, and Hinkley said he would miss between four weeks and three months “depending on how bad a rupture or whether it’s a slight tear”.
The Power meet arch-rivals Adelaide on Saturday, while St Kilda host the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.