15/04/2024

With eyes on a premiership, Port Adelaide missed the finals entirely. (Image: PAFC/Twitter)

For Port Adelaide, season 2022 was meant to be a year of redemption off the back of a devastating preliminary final loss last season. It was instead one of disappointment as they missed the finals entirely, leaving many questions to be answered.

Finishing position: 11th (10 wins, 12 losses)

What worked?

In what was a disappointing season for the club, there were still some positives to take away.

Connor Rozee showed how good he can be as a midfielder, while Todd Marshall broke out, giving Port Adelaide fans what they always wanted to see from the young key forward as he led the forward line in Charlie Dixon’s absence.

With all the injuries, Port Adelaide was able to blood multiple debutants, including 2019 father-son pick Jackson Mead, Jase Burgoyne, Sam Hayes, and mid-season draftee Brynn Teakle. Mead and Burgoyne were particularly impressive, playing 11 and eight games respectively and showed some good signs.

Many questioned the acquisition of Jeremy Finlayson in the off-season, but the 26-year-old showed plenty. Often playing forward, he also spent time this season as Port Adelaide’s number one ruckman due to injuries to Scott Lycett and Teakle.

What didn’t?

All teams had injuries but Port Adelaide had too many key players miss games throughout the year without the adequate depth to help lessen the blow. Charlie Dixon, Aliir Aliir, and Scott Lycett were a few that missed games due to injury.

Port Adelaide showed moments where it could match it with the best teams in the competition, but in a similar fashion to the last couple of seasons, it was unable to get over the line.

This reared its head in particular early in the season, where the Power started 0-5, including devastatingly close four and three-point losses to Adelaide and Carlton respectively.

It was too late to save the season from there, slumping to 5-7 during the bye rounds.

Breakout stars:

Due to injuries in the forward line, Connor Rozee started the year up forward, delaying his move to the midfield. But once he made the move into the middle in Round 5 against Carlton, the dynamic youngster was at his damaging best.

Up until Round 5, Rozee hadn’t gathered more than 16 disposals. With Ken Hinkley giving the 22-year-old more midfield minutes, he would gather 20 or more disposals in every game for the rest of the reason bar one, with 25 or more disposals on six occasions.

Despite moving into the midfield, the South Australian was still able to hit the scoreboard, kicking 18 goals. A three-week patch against the Suns, Dockers, and Giants saw Rozee collect 24, 21, and 24 disposals and kick eight goals.

Playing every game this season, he recorded career-highs in several key indicators of an elite midfielder. He finished the season averaging 23.2 disposals, 4.1 inside 50s, 3.2 clearances, and 5.9 score involvements per game.

Rozee capped off his break-out season with several achievements, such as earning his first All-Australian blazer, being named in the 22under22 for the second time, finishing in the top five of The AFL Coaches Association’s AFL Champion Player Award, and winning his first Peter Badcoe and Showdown medal.

With Charlie Dixon going down in the pre-season, Port Adelaide needed one of its key forwards to step up and lead the forward group. Todd Marshall did exactly that.

Often the scapegoat of supporters, Marshall was one of Port Adelaide’s, if not one of the competition’s most improved players in season 2022.

The 23-year-old kicked a career-high 45 goals in 21 games, averaging two goals per game and finishing with 21 goals more than his previous best. The 198cm forward also averaged career-highs in marks (5.5), contested marks (1.3), and marks inside 50 (2.8) per game.

The leader of Port’s forward line has traditionally been Charlie Dixon, but after his stellar season, it is arguable that it is Marshall’s forward line now.

Todd Marshall has done a superb job leading Port Adelaide’s forward line in Charlie Dixon’s absence. (Image: @PAFC – Twitter)

Sam Powell-Pepper also deserves a mention after his spectacular season. When the Power was going through their rough patch at the beginning of the season, Powell-Pepper was always the one trying his heart out.

After being on the fringes of Port’s best 22 last season, the hard-nosed West Australian was challenged by the club in the pre-season. It looks like the message went through with the 24-year-old, playing an equal career-high 22 games.

Playing as a powerful, high-pressure half-forward, Powell-Pepper kicked 24 goals, averaging just over one per game. He also averaged 16 disposals and five tackles inside 50 per game.

The 187cm midfielder/forward was tasked with playing various roles throughout the season, including playing as Port Adelaide’s backup ruckman.

Despite being undersized, Powell-Pepper did anything he thought was best for the team, and his efforts throughout the entire season have not gone unrecognised by the Port Adelaide faithful.

Sam Powell-Pepper had a strong season. (Photo: PowerFromPort/Twitter)

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Highest point:

The highest point for Port Adelaide was sending off club legend Robbie Gray in style, demolishing the Adelaide Crows by 56 points in Showdown 52. In his 271st and final game, the 34-year-old played a typical ‘Robbie Gray’ game, kicking goals and setting up his teammates.

He finished the game with two goals, 12 disposals, six marks, and nine score involvements. Gray had an opportunity to kick his third goal of the night, but known for his unselfishness, he chose to pass it off to Todd Marshall on the lead instead.

Although it was a disappointing season for the Port Adelaide faithful, Round 23 was a special moment as they farewelled a stalwart of the club.

Lowest point:

The lowest point of the Power’s season was their first month of the season, losing five games in a row before recording their first win.

Most of Port’s performances in the first five rounds were admirable but just fell short. However, that wasn’t the case in its Round 2 clash against Hawthorn.

It was a particularly painful result on a night when the club was paying tribute to late club legend, Russell Ebert.

The Power dominated many of the key stats but their efficiency wasn’t up to standard. They were hurt defensively with the Hawks exiting their defensive 50 with ease and being more efficient in their own forward line.

Despite the dominance, Port Adelaide was smashed and embarrassed on a night where it was meant to honour a club legend, losing to Hawthorn by 64 points.

Embed from Getty Images

Where to next?

Port Adelaide is still in a position to contend, especially with the talent on its list, but there are still pieces it can add.

A few positions that would rank highly on the Power’s agenda this off-season would be looking at adding another key defender, a small forward, a ruckman, and another top-tier midfielder.

With a couple of additions to its list and with players such as Zak Butters, Jase Burgoyne, Josh Sinn, Xavier Duursma, Connor Rozee, and Todd Marshall having another pre-season under their belt, there is no reason Port can’t rise up the ladder and return to being one of the best teams in the competition.

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