AFL – Power outage in Adelaide

After successive AFL preliminary finals, Port Adelaide were again tipped for big things in 2022. But their flag hopes have dived after a horror start.

Minor premiers in 2020, runner-up in 2021; hopes were unsurprisingly high for Port Adelaide in AFL season 2022.

And it was reflected in the pre-season markets. Before Round 1, Ken Hinkley’s men were $10 fourth-favourites for the flag, behind just premiers Melbourne, grand finalists Western Bulldogs and Brisbane. But the Power’s start to the season has been nothing short of disastrous. A close first-up loss to the Lions at the Gabba was not unexpected, but in the last fortnight the wheels have fallen off. A 64-point hammering to Hawthorn at home — despite starting strong $1.25 favourites — was followed by an inexplicable showdown loss to Adelaide in Round 3 in a clash they should have iced on several occasions. Instead, Crow Jordan Dawson’s after-the-siren goal has consigned Hinkley’s men to an 0-3 start. And with it, their AFL premiership hopes have ballooned out to $18. So, can they come back?

History against them

The good news for Port Adelaide is that there is recent history of teams coming back from 0-3 starts to finish inside the Top 8. Three clubs have done so in the last 12 years; in fact, the Giants did so in 2021. The BAD news, however, is that the Power are staring down the barrel of a 0-4 start, with a clash against reigning AFL premiers Melbourne to come. From there, the history books aren’t so kind. Just two clubs have come back from that perilous position; Sydney in 2017 and North Melbourne in 1975.

The predicament further underlines the importance Thursday’s blockbuster at the Adelaide Oval, which they start as $2.93 underdogs.

Emotionally scarred?

Just how big was the impact of last year’s preliminary final smashing at the hands of the Western Bulldogs on Port Adelaide’s flat start to 2022? Let’s rewind briefly. After finishing second last season, the Power earned a home qualifying final against Geelong, where they ran out comprehensive 43-point winners (the 40+ market was paying $6 on that night, underlining how impressive the win was). At that stage, the Power were seemingly primed for their first AFL flag tilt since 2004, and were $3.60 second-favourites with Palmerbet. But a crushing 71-point defeat to the Dogs followed in the prelim, which has arguably done more damage that just the embarrassing loss.

Whether that’s right or not, the Power are in stark danger of missing the Top 8. Starting the season as strong $1.33 chances, Hinkley’s men are already out to $2.40.