Port wary of in-form ruckman Gawn in AFL

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Port wary of in-form ruckman Gawn in AFL

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has challenged his side to match it with a Melbourne team brimming with young talent ahead of Saturday’s AFL clash.

And he says it starts with preventing ruckman Max Gawn from dominating the play as he has so often done this season.

The Power’s ruck stocks will be bolstered by the return of Matthew Lobbe, who was sidelined for three months after undergoing knee surgery.

Lobbe will provide much-needed help to the 197cm Jackson Trengove, whose body has taken a physical toll after facing bigger and stronger opponents most weeks.

“The timing’s good for us because we know how good Max has been all season,” Hinkley said on Friday.

“Jacko’s done a great job for us but we think obviously having some support there against probably the All-Australian ruckman is a good decision.”

Gawn was clearly Melbourne’s best player in their 45-point loss to the Power in Alice Springs in round 10, finishing with 48 hitouts and two goals.

Jack Viney had a day to forget, earning a one-week suspension for striking Power midfielder Brad Ebert who had tagged the star onballer out of the game.

Hinkley hasn’t decided yet whether Viney will be tagged again but says the Demons won’t be underestimated after beating Hawthorn last week.

“They’ve got some serious talent right across the park,” he said.

“At the moment we’re just managing our way through what we best need to do to get what we want.

“If we can eliminate some of the ruck factor perhaps that gives us our best chance at ground level.”

Port will blood another debutant for the Adelaide Oval clash in young forward Jesse Palmer, who has produced eye-catching form in the SANFL.

Hinkley says it’s the right time for the Power to test their rookies after their finals hopes were dealt a hammer blow by Sydney last week.

“There was some obvious stuff that we didn’t stand up in,” he said.

“They exposed us in key parts of the game – the contest, territory, the things in the game that are really crucial for success.”

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