Port Adelaide coach ponders ruck worry against Demons
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley admits to a rucking worry against Melbourne in their top-four AFL clash.
Hinkley has replaced six-gamer Brynn Teakle with veteran Scott Lycett, who had been out of AFL favour for a month, as he tries to combat Melbourne's twin ruck threats.
The Power coach knows Demons captain Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy loom large in Friday night's Adelaide Oval fixture.
And he says there's only one way for his rucks to prevail.
"With a lot of help and support from the whole team," Hinkley said.
"Critically, their two rucks are really dominant rucks and they're a great combination, probably equal, if not, the best combination in the comp, I am not sure what the other one is.
"They're going to be a real challenge.
"But again it's the team v team, it's not just ruck v ruck, whoever we decide to put in the ruck will need the support of the whole team."
Hinkley expects the midfield duels at the feet of the rucks to be more defining for the Power, sitting in fourth spot and on a six-game winning streak.
Port's emerging stars Connor Rozee and Zak Butters and Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines clash with Melbourne's feted on-ball brigade headlined by Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney.
"It's a pretty exciting battle when you consider the form of a few of our midfield currently," Hinkley said.
"It's a top-four battle so you would expect both teams to have pretty good players out there.
"The winner of the ground ball is probably going to be pretty important."
Second-placed Melbourne's two wins over Port last year includes their successful away raid when holding the Power to just 0.5 at halftime in a 32-point win at Adelaide Oval.
The Power managed only 36 points in total in that match, and have scored only 69 and 55 points in their other two most recent meetings with Melbourne.
But even with key forward Charlie Dixon still out because of a thigh injury and his attacking ally Todd Marshall sidelined by concussion, Hinkley is bullish about altering that trend.
"I feel like we're scoring better this year than we have in the previous couple of years so that will give us a good opportunity to test that right out," he said.
Port's six-game winning stretch includes four victories by 14 points or less.
"Our players have filled up on belief by sticking to task ... play the whole game, is what our players have taken on board," Hinkley said.
"We have trained to deal with the best teams, of which Melbourne is one ... it will be fierce, it will probably end with us separated by a small margin."