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Port Adelaide’s worrying defensive issues have been exposed once more, with AFL great Jason Dunstall describing some of their efforts as “horrible” in Thursday night’s 36-point home defeat to Carlton. Port coach Ken Hinkley admitted his men were “spanked” at Adelaide Oval, with Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps booting two goals in two minutes in a pivotal final term as Carlton claimed a 16.11 (107) to 10.11 (71) victory.

The Power were right in the contest going into the fourth quarter but conceded a whopping eight goals to three, including 7.1 from stoppages. Dunstall had raised eyebrows before the game after labelling the Power a “fake top four team” and he doubled down on that assessment after watching Port’s midfield get dominated by the likes of Cripps and Sam Walsh – who produced a game-high 33 disposals.

Port remain third on the ladder despite dropping to 8-4 for the season – the same record as Carlton. But Dunstall said the Power’s “lack of defence” should be a real concern for Hinkley and the numbers back up that assertion. Port’s defence looked to have improved earlier in the season but from rounds 6-11 they’ve plummeted to 15th in the league for conceding points from turnovers and are ranked 10th for points against.

“It leaked like a sieve when the ball started to go in there,” Dunstall said about Port’s defence on Fox Footy. “As I said, the old fake top four team, Port Adelaide, don’t know where they go from here.” He then turned his attention to a number of defensive one-on-ones for the Power that were particularly poor.

“The Port defenders, to be brutally honest, were horrible in one-on-ones,” Dunstall added. “You could see the pressure they were facing, Zerk-Thatcher had a pretty dirty night. They (Carlton) pretty much did as they liked and probably would reflect on this game and think: ‘Probably could’ve kicked four or five (more goals), could’ve been a better night’.”AFL News 2024 | Ken Hinkley booed by Port Adelaide fans; Ken Hinkley  future; Josh Carr; Leigh Matthews comments – Kruathai N

Dual premiership Kangaroos great David King agreed and said Port’s inability to deal with Carlton’s stoppage threat was diabolical. “It’s a problem, I’ve never seen a stoppage quarter like it. 7.1 (to Carlton) in 30 minutes of footy,” King remarked about the Blues’ final term blitz. “They’ve got some gamblers Port Adelaide and some guys who are prepared to roll the dice.

“When you get it wrong and roll snake eyes, you pay a price. You just shouldn’t be able to kick 7.1 in a quarter from stoppage. It’s sight unseen for me. It’ll be the highest for 15 or 20 years, that’s the levels we’re talking about. And it’ll be against teams that are also-rans or welded to the bottom of the table. Port Adelaide at home, supposed to be legit in 2024. Uh-uh.”

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