- from afl.com.au
PORT Adelaide's failure to compete against West Coast at the contest on Saturday was 'soft', according to coach Ken Hinkley, with the Power now fighting to reverse a concerning trend.
The Eagles dominated contested ball in their 42-point win at Optus Stadium, winning the key indicator 162-120, despite losing star midfielder Luke Shuey in the opening two minutes.
The Power have now lost the contested ball in their past six matches, against North Melbourne (-11), Geelong (-14), Essendon (-2), Brisbane (-4) and Sydney (-11), with a Showdown looming next Saturday.
Asked if the lopsided count on Saturday indicated a soft approach from his 4-3 team, Hinkley said: "That's a fair way to describe today's performance".
"It's not a fair way to describe us typically, but it's a fair way to describe today's performance," the coach said.
"One side was really strong in the contest and one side wasn't.
"We know you have to continually train contested possession to improve.
"We've got some players there who are normally much better than they were at that, and we've got some opportunities for players to come in and perhaps help us with that."
Midfielders Ollie Wines (13), Robbie Gray (10) and Jared Polec (10) were the only Power players to have double-figure contested possessions, compared to six Eagles, with Elliot Yeo and Mark Hutchings combining for 32.
"That's why we lost the game, it's as simple as that," Hinkley said.
"You can't win big if you lose contested ball consistently. We know that, we're not shying away from that.
"We're training it during the week consistently at the moment, (but) today was a big setback."
Recruit Tom Rockliff had 31 possessions in the SAFL on Friday night and is a chance to return for next Saturday's Showdown, with Powell-Pepper (25) also available.
"We need him to build his form and get consistent in the way he went about it," Hinkley said of Powell-Pepper.
"He's had a bit of time off and some distractions, clearly.
"But I thought his performance last night, which I watched, in the second half (that) was exactly what we missed out there today.
"So he's obviously a pretty good chance to come back."
The coach was pleased to have ruckman Paddy Ryder back in action after five matches sidelined with an Achilles injury, acknowledging the significant battle he faced against Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett, who dominated the hit-outs (56-26).
"Paddy showed some nice stuff for us today and obviously we wanted to make sure we did the right thing and put him out there at the right time," Hinkley said.
"There's significant improvement in Paddy, which will certainly help out contested possession."