'You can't hide': Brutal truth exposed in Port's AFL finals 'disaster'

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Pictured here, devastated Port Adelaide players react after being belted by the Western Bulldogs.
Port Adelaide were thumped at home by the Western Bulldogs in their AFL preliminary final. Pic: Getty

Port Adelaide's coach Ken Hinkley admits he doesn't know where to begin describing his side's disappointment after their AFL finals campaign was ended in brutal and embarrassing fashion.

The Power - despite going into Saturday night's preliminary final in scintillating form - were trounced by 71 points by the Western Bulldogs in a performance Hinkley described as a "disaster".

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Hinkley was clearly shellshocked after the defeat which sees the Bulldogs set up a grand final date with the Melbourne Demons on Saturday week in Perth.

"It's clearly just total disappointment," the Power coach said after the match.

"This game, you're into it, you give everything you have got - coaches, staff, everyone, it's the whole footy club.

"We all work so damn hard to get where we want to go and it gets ripped away from you, it gets ripped out of your hands.

"And there's nothing more you can say other than you are totally disappointed ... it's real and it hurts."

St Kilda great Leigh Montagna said Port's players simply did not deliver when it mattered most and paid the price for losing the battle of contested possessions.

"They got smacked with what is their one wood. The whole football world knows, for them it's contested possessions," he told First Crack.

"It was there for everyone to see, you can’t hide, there was nowhere to hide. When the game was up for grabs in that first quarter, minus 23 – the worst result ever recorded in a quarter.

"They just didn’t come to play, they’ll be so disappointed because it has been their strength for two years, the secret to their success. They just couldn’t deliver on the big stage.

"Too many of them weren’t tough enough early in the game, maybe they’ve left too much to (Travis) Boak and (Ollie) Wines all year? They needed more support and they just couldn’t get it done.”

The Power have now lost consecutive home preliminary finals, with the defeat to the Dogs following last season's six-point loss to Richmond.

And Hinkley conceded the successive failures could lead to a sudden drop-off in future seasons.

Power coach Ken Hinkley is seen here addressing his players in the AFL preliminary final against the Bulldogs.
Power coach Ken Hinkley was at a loss to explain his AFL preliminary final mauling by the Bulldogs. Pic: Getty

"They can," he said.

"Everyone starts at this footy club believing that we're capable of winning the premiership in 2021.

"And when you get to this stage and you fall short by one step and don't make it to that final game, it does hurt.

"It hurt last year ... it hurts every year when you get to this stage.

"You have got to just continue to work at it and you have got to continue to improve. It becomes an easy drop off for you if you're not willing to work."

Bulldogs thump Power in lopsided affair

Port were 37 points down at quarter-time and a whopping 58 points behind at halftime.

"Shocked that we played poorly? Yeah, probably," Hinkley said.

"But it's more around the hurt and the disappointment ... you just rip everything out of your insides and it hurts for too long.

"We made it to the last four teams in the competition. It's a bloody good effort to get to that position.

"But when you fall short, nothing feels good right now."

But the Power coach was confident the character of his players would survive such testing times.

"The proof is in their ability to come back this year after last year," he said.

"They're a youngish team, they have got a couple of top-end mature players, but overall they're quite a young, still developing team.

"They have got a lot to work on, not just because of a prelim final result - they have got a lot to work on in their development as players.

"And we have got lots to work on as a coaching staff to develop these players and our game style to a level that can be successful when we need it to be."

with AAP

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