The warning bells are already ringing at St Kilda after its four-point loss to an inspired Port Adelaide on Sunday night, 13.11 (89) to 13.7 (85).
The final siren marked not only a near-perfect start to the season for Matthew Primus’ men, but also raised severe doubts about the Saints’ ability to compete with the premier clubs in the competition.
St Kilda’s loss to the Power, a side that was labelled a basket case last season, is a scary result for one of the league’s most successful teams of recent years.
It appears that the Saints may be having some teething problems under the new leadership of Scott Watters, with the adaptation of the new coach’s gameplan hardly instantaneous.
It was Port who got off to a flyer in the opening term, kicking a streak of four consecutive goals to assert its dominance early before St Kilda pegged one back to keep the lead to 19 points at the break.
The Power had their triple-pronged forward line of Jay Schulz, John Butcher and Justin Westhoff working in perfect tandem with the delivery from new recruits John McCarthy and Brad Ebert just as classy.
Yet as the first-half wore on, the Saints’ experience began to shine through with three late goals gifting the visitors a three-point margin at the long break.
Jarrad Redden played the ruckman role like a man with plenty more games under his belt, and through a topsy-turvy third quarter it was just a Brad Ebert goal separating the two sides at three-quarter-time.
The home crowd of just over 21,000 lifted for Port Adelaide in the final term, with goals from Westhoff and substitute David Rodan putting victory out of reach for the new-look Saints.
Beaten by the siren just seconds away from one last forward thrust, St Kilda was left to contemplate the impact of an embarrassing opening round loss as Primus and co rejoiced in an unexpected win.
Imagine how Ross Lyon’s feeling right now.
3. Hamish Hartlett
2. Brad Ebert
1. Jarrad Redden
PORT ADELAIDE 5.2 8.6 11.9 13.11 (89)
ST KILDA 2.1 9.3 11.4 13.7 (85)
Port Adelaide: Schulz (2), Butcher (2), Westhoff (2), Brad Ebert (2), Stewart McCarthy, Hartlett, Boak, Rodan
St Kilda: Koschitzke (3), Milne (2), Riewoldt (2), Dal Santo (2), Montagna, Stanley, Jones, Milera