A 17-5 season saw Port finish second on the AFL ladder after 23 rounds before a dominant win in the first final at home over Geelong. With a week off and a home preliminary final, the club had arguably their best chance to reach their first grand final since 2007.
But they capitulated spectacularly, going down to the Western Bulldogs to the tune of 71 points in what was simply a poor showing. It saw some in the media question whether Port can produce their best footy when it matters most, with some even bringing up the now famous ‘choking’ calls that plagued the Mark Williams-coached Port Adelaide of the early 2000s.
While that may seem a tad harsh, the club has finished in the top two over the past two seasons - only to lose consecutive home preliminary finals…
In: Jeremy Finlayson, Trent Dumont, Sam Skinner, Josh Sinn, Hugh Jackson, Dante Visentini, Jase Burgoyne
Out: Tom Rockliff, Hamish Hartlett, Joel Garner, Tyson Goldsack, Peter Ladhams, Jarrod Lienert, Boyd Woodcock
Disposals - 1st
Contested Possessions - 2nd
Tackles - 4th
Clangers - 14th
Turnovers - 18th
Star player: Ollie Wines
How can you look past the 2021 Brownlow Medal winner? It was a stellar year from Wines, who averaged 32.1 disposals and six clearances a game across the regular season. On top of the Brownlow, in which he equalled the record for most votes polled in a season, Wines also claimed his maiden All Australian honour.
At 27 years of age, Wines is at the peak of his powers and, in a team that’s likely to be a contender once again, there’s no reason the hard-nosed midfielder can’t repeat his stellar 2021.
One to watch: Connor Rozee
With just three seasons under his belt, Connor Rozee is already one of the most exciting players in the competition. Lightning quick with the ability to make something out of nothing, he’s one of those players who can turn a game in a 10-minute period.
Entering his fourth year, the 22-year-old is expected to spend more time up the ground in 2022. While many will argue taking him away from the forward 50, where he’s so dangerous, could be counterproductive, it’s exciting to think about what he could produce if he’s getting the football 30 times a game.
Under pressure: Charlie Dixon
When up and going, Dixon is a hulking forward capable of monstering his opposition and pulling down contested mark after contested mark. An imposing 200cm and 107kg, he has a presence inside 50 that few other players do in the AFL.
However, given his size and his importance to Port Adelaide, Dixon doesn’t impose himself on a game consistently enough. Despite his physical prowess, through a mix of inconsistent form and injury he’s never hit the 50 goal mark across his 11 seasons. If Port are going to go a step further in 2022, Dixon will be key to their chances of doing so.
On the back of consecutive home preliminary finals losses, having finished in the top two on the AFL ladder at the end of the season, 2022 shapes as a critical season for everyone at Alberton - particularly senior coach Ken Hinkley.
Another top-four finish will be the minimum expectation, while plans to play off in the grand final are not unrealistic - at their best, Port are an exciting, free-flowing team who can match it with anyone in the competition. The question is whether or not they can produce that when it matters most.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Brisbane, Gabba, Saturday March 19
Round 3 vs. Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, Friday April 1
Round 6 vs. West Coast, Adelaide Oval, Saturday April 23
Round 8 vs. Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Oval, Friday May 6
Round 23 vs. Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, TBC
All time games
- Travis Boak - 306
- Kane Cornes - 300
- Justin Westhoff - 280
- Robbie Gray - 255
- Warren Tredrea - 255
All time goals
- Warren Tredrea - 549
- Robbie Gray - 353
- Justin Westhoff - 313
- Jay Schulz - 275
- Stuart Dew - 245
MOST DISPOSALS: Ollie Wines - 777
MOST TACKLES: Willem Drew - 164
MOST CLEARANCES: Travis Boak - 143
MOST MARKS: Aliir Aliir - 156
MOST GOALS: Charlie Dixon - 48