It is difficult to be critical of Port Adelaide last Thursday against Geelong in what was a great game of football. The Power was brave, you could not fault the effort and the less said about the umpiring the better.
But the brave performance did not provide a win and umpiring aside it is not the first time in the last two years Port Adelaide has been on the wrong end of a tight contest. The statistics confirm this is developing into a worrying trend.
When Port Adelaide has won this season (table above) they have won comfortably. Four winning margins over 70 points and a very healthy percentage as a result. But that is little comfort after the gut wrenching loss to Geelong.
The loss to the Cats was the third loss for the Power in 2017 by less than three goals. In a season that is so tightly contested results such as this may very well be the difference between a mid-table finish and being a serious finals contender.
Many Power fans will not be concerned. They simply point to the fact Port were screwed over by the umpires against the Cats and should have won.
Despite the perceived travesty there were still multiple opportunities for Port to win the match in the last quarter and they failed to capitalise. Justin Westhoff confirming again that if you want someone to kick a straight forward goal when needed under pressure then look elsewhere.
A look at the stats from last year confirms a similar tale of woe. When the Power wins they do so comfortably.
The ten wins for Port last year was by an average margin of 50 points with the lowest winning margin for the season being the 23 point victory over Gold Coast in the last round of the season.
So that brings us to the games Port Adelaide lost in 2016. The Power was smashed at times last year but what about the games decided by less than three goals? All five games with a margin less than three goals were opposition victories.
When you lose a game in isolation by a small margin it could be considered a coincidence or just bad luck. But not when it is now eight in a row.
When the Geelong loss is reviewed the coaching still will need to really drill down on why they continue to lose close games. Is it a mental issue? A coaching/structure issue? Is it an on-field leadership issue when the game is there to be won? It may very well be a combination of all.
The following sentence is the one that should give Ken Hinkley concern. Round 17, 2015 against Essendon is the last time the Power won a game when the final margin was less than three goals.
A win over the Hawks will provide some comfort from the loss last week but the real test for Port Adelaide is still to come. When they play a top eight side and the game is in the balance with five minutes remaining.
If the Power wants to be taken as a serious finals contender then it is time to reverse the trend. Honourable losses will not win finals or premierships.