Port's back six 'outstanding': Carlile - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Port's back six 'outstanding': Carlile

By Daniel Brettig 30/03/2009 02:22:24 PM Comments (0)

Not content with merely beating Essendon spearhead Matthew Lloyd, Port Adelaide fullback Alipate Carlile accomplished the exceptionally rare feat of outscoring the ageing Bomber.

In doing so, he showed the Power's oft-noted defensive weakness may yet become a strength as they build on the strides made in a 41-point AFL round one victory.

Carlile ventured forward early on to nail his first career goal with surprising assurance.

It was one more than Lloyd was able to muster on a barren day for he, fellow left-footer Scott Lucas (one goal) and young marking target Jay Neagle (one).

"(The goal) was definitely a fluke, I don't know what I was doing," Carlile said with a grin on Monday.

"Matthew Lloyd is a superstar of the game, so trying to beat him one-on-one was really a focus of mine.

"Thankfully, the other guys like Troy Chaplin and Michael Pettigrew helped me out a bit and they did really good jobs on their players as well, so all across the board, I thought the back six were outstanding.

"We're still pretty young back there, still learning, but hopefully if we can keep that six, with guys pushing through the SANFL like Toby Thurstans and Nick Lower, hopefully they can keep the pressure on us to keep improving."

Attempts to identify Port Adelaide's on-field Achilles heel for the 2009 AFL season have commonly homed in on the Power backline.

Too young, not quite balanced and arguably lacking a stand-out leader, the Port Adelaide back six was punctured time and again last year, despite the earnest efforts of Carlile - the round 22 rising star nominee.

He, Troy Chaplin, Michael Pettigrew and Jacob Surjan remain as components from the 2008 defence, but the addition of Nathan Krakouer's verve and Steven Salopek's leadership have made a significant difference.

"We've now got those guys down back like your Nathan Krakouers and Steven Salopeks who use the ball so well," said Carlile.

"Defensive pressure from the midfield has helped us a lot, so them chasing out and really putting pressure on their midfielders and giving us a chance to spoil and bring the ball to ground.

"If we bring it to ground, we've got little guys there to take it out."

Salopek is widely considered a future club leader, and has brought voice and system to the backline, where the retirements of stalwarts Darryl Wakelin and Michael Wilson had left something of a hole.

"He brings leadership to the backline and with us young fellas he keeps talking to us and that sort of thing," Carlile said.

"He's actually helped us come out of our shells, especially Nathan Krakouer and Michael Pettigrew, you now see them pointing and doing that sort of stuff."

Port were understandably delighted to start the year as winners in front of a promising round one crowd, but Carlile acknowledged there would be sterner tests to come than that posed by a modest Essendon.

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