AFL Strugglers Look For Winning Start

Source: AAP/abc.net.au
The Demons won just four games in 2012. Image courtesy of abc.net.au/AAP
Last 5 Matches

Round 17, 2012 – Port Adelaide Power 84 d Melbourne Demons 56
Round 24, 2011 – Port Adelaide Power 112 d Melbourne Demons 104
Round 17, 2011 – Melbourne Demons 113 d Port Adelaide Power 92
Round 21, 2010 – Port Adelaide Power 112 d Melbourne Demons 83
Round 9, 2010 – Melbourne Demons 111 d Port Adelaide Power 110


The less said about the 2012 season for these two teams, the better. They mustered just nine wins between them, and 2013 couldn’t come quickly enough for fans. Not surprisingly, both sides went through major clean-outs in the off-season, while Port has also had to deal with the death of John McCarthy on an end-of-season trip in Las Vegas last year.

After more misses than hits with their early draft picks in recent years, the Demons have turned their recruiting to more senior players the past two seasons. Mitch Clark arrived in 2012 from the Lions and proved to be very good as a stay-at-home forward kicking 29 goals in 11 games on a bad team. Clark only got back on the field last week in a VFL match after getting over a long-term foot injury. Demons co-captain Jack Trengove is also over a foot injury and got through the same VFL match unscathed.  Among seven potential debutants are two of the club's great hopes, midfield duo Todd Viney and Jimmy Toumpas. 

New coach Ken Hinkley has a massive job on his hands improving a Port team that has won just 34 of its 110 starts since copping a hiding at the hands of Geelong in the 2007 grand final. Classy Danyle Pearce left Alberton as a free agent and went to Fremantle at the end of last season, and the only senior player brought in was Angus Monfries from Essendon. He’s been named to play across half-forward after spending the pre-season in the midfield.  No. 7 draft pick Ollie Wines, who already has an AFL-type body for a teenager, has been named on an extended bench. He’s a ball-winner and should see plenty of time as an inside midfielder.


Key Men

(Melbourne) Jack Watts – There has been plenty of talk about the Dees taking Watts first in the 2008 draft ahead of Nic Naitanui, but this could be the year he shows why. A superb athlete, Watts showed an ability to read the play and excelled as a loose man in defence after moving there midway through last season. It was probably the best decision Mark Neeld made all year, and at 21 years of age, he has the ability to provide rebound from back for Melbourne for many years to come.

(Port Adelaide) Jay Schulz – With Jared Rivers jumping ship to Geelong, Melbourne is left with James Frawley as its only experienced option against key forwards. Schulz kicked 42 goals last season in just 15 games, kicking multiple goals on all but two occasions. If Port’s forward-minded midfielders like Travis Boak can give him some decent service, he’s one of only a couple of players in the Power line-up with the ability to break the game wide open.


Prediction

Port Adelaide went to Victoria five times last year and the only points they came away with were gained in the final round draw with Richmond. In fact, the Power hasn’t left the Garden State with the four points since round 22, 2010, a total of ten unsuccessful trips in a row. Melbourne has enough top-liners carrying injury concerns and suffering from a lack of playing time in the pre-season to dispel any notion of them being a safe bet. The home side has won 17 of the last 19 times these teams have met, so the Dees should get home in the end and exceed their win tally from the first nine rounds of last season. Demons by 15 points

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