Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has questioned his team’s courage after watching their finals hopes fade in a 17-point AFL loss to Fremantle.
The Power had everything to play for against the struggling Dockers on Saturday, but failed to even score a goal in the final quarter as Fremantle secured the 12.14 (86) to 9.15 (69) win at Domain Stadium.
The result left the Power (6-7) two wins and a sizeable percentage adrift of eighth spot.
Port have the bye next week, then confront a tough run home that includes games against flag fancies Hawthorn, North Melbourne, GWS, Sydney and Adelaide.
In an added blow to the Power, young forward Dougal Howard suffered a suspected ACL injury to his left knee during the third quarter.
Hinkley was scathing of his team’s performance, saying his players didn’t play hard enough for long enough.
“We were chasing our tail because their midfield got on top. Not just on top – they dominated the game,” Hinkley said.
“There is a part of us that’s not courageous enough at the right times. We have to be more courageous.
“We just couldn’t perform when we needed to. That’s why we’re a 50-50 side.
“Early in the game we felt we didn’t want to win almost. The mindset of the players seemed that they were spooked by it all.
“It was like Fremantle were 6-6 and the roles were reversed.”
Hinkley concedes it will be “incredibly tough” to make the finals now, but he hasn’t given up hope completely.
And he hopes his players will own up to the situation during their bye week.
Howard’s injury further depletes a ruck division already missing Matthew Lobbe (knee) and Paddy Ryder (suspended).
But the Power are set to regain Jay Schulz and Jack Hombsch after the break.
Dockers midfielder Michael Barlow tallied 43 disposals and two goals to help inspire Fremantle to their third win on the trot, while Matthew Pavlich turned back the clock with four goals.
But forward Tanner Smith will miss Friday night’s clash with Collingwood at the MCG after injuring his hamstring.
The Power were left to rue a glut of easy missed shots throughout the match.
Robbie Gray, Charlie Dixon, and Ollie Wines sprayed sitters, while a number of other achievable shots also went astray.
Barlow tallied 12 disposals and two goals during a pulsating third quarter.
His first goal was the highlight, with the 28-year-old spinning through two opponents before nailing his dribble kick while being tackled.
Barlow also restricted Gray to just 18 disposals in another supreme tagging effort.
“It was pleasing for Michael, significant in the outcome, and he’s showed he’s got some really good footy in him,” Dockers coach Ross Lyon said.
The second quarter featured one of the most bizarre free kicks ever seen after Dougal Howard’s boot came off before a ruck contest.
Dockers skipper David Mundy picked up the boot and hurled it 20m away, but the move was deemed illegal and Howard was awarded the free kick.