Port Adelaide’s tumultuous week is set to get a lot worse facing a Hawthorn side smarting from an after-the-siren loss in the game of the season.
There were absolutely no positives to be taken out of Port Adelaide’s loss to GWS last week. The performance was so inept coach Matthew Primus couldn’t even see out the game, and subsequently won’t be seeing out the season. The president fell on his sword with him. The appointment of Gary Hocking as interim coach may well turn the club’s fortunes around temporarily, yet they face a monster of a task that even the real Buddha himself would baulk at facing Hawthorn fresh from a close loss to nemesis Geelong.
Port have been another of Hawthorn’s bogey sides, beating them 15 of their 25 clashes, yet the Hawks have won their last three meetings including a 165-point drubbing at the ‘G late last year. Statistically, Port aren’t too far behind the Hawks in contested possessions and points conceded, though they have been lacking the forward firepower and consistency for most of the season. They’ll lift and be putting their head over the ball for their new coach after an effort last week that was labelled “bruise free football”.
Up until their ninth straight loss to Geelong since beating them for the 2008 flag, Hawthorn had stormed into premiership favouritism with a string of crushing defeats including a thorough dismantling of the then top of the table Pies as well as kicking some cricket scores against lowly teams.
The Hawks look set to start Lance Franklin who will return from a month on the sidelines, and Max Bailey, who was a late withdrawal against Geelong is certain to play. Liam Shiels accepted a one match suspension which opens the door for the return of Chance Bateman or Xavier Ellis – who have been starring for Box hill – into the middle.
Teams always fire after the sacking of a coach mid-season, yet the Hawks welcoming back Buddy and Bailey, and no doubt seething from their loss to Geelong will most likely make Buddha’s initiation to coaching a less than spiritual one.
Prediction: Hawks by 46