Port coach warns Cats about AFL finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Port coach warns Cats about AFL finals

By Adam Cooper 19/08/2007 07:03:51 PM Comments (0)

Port Adelaide coach Mark Williams has warned minor premiers Geelong that bad luck and finals pressure could yet derail their AFL campaign similar to the ways the Power suffered earlier this decade.

Not long after Port grabbed second spot on the ladder with a dramatic five-point win over Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium, Williams insisted the premiership race was still wide open and that top spot did not guarantee the Cats the 2007 flag.

In a none-too-subtle attempt to throw doubts into the Geelong camp ahead of Sunday's top-versus-second clash at Skilled Stadium, Williams said Port still wanted to have a major say on the remainder of this season.

He said Geelong could still experience the sort of calamitous finals campaigns that Port had in 2002 and 2003, when they won the minor premiership but failed under the pressure of finals expectation.

Port lost home qualifying finals and then were eliminated in preliminary finals in both those seasons, having also lost both finals in 2001 after finishing third.

It was not until 2004 that they finally made good on their talent by winning that year's grand final.

"Port Adelaide finished top three years in a row," Williams said.

"One year (2003) we were three games clear of everyone else and until that big day comes and the big finals come, you're not exactly sure what you're going to deliver.

"You think you've got it right but there'll be a lot of questions going through the Geelong people's heads.

"They've got the leadership group working and they roll out that sort of glory but you've got Cam Mooney there who's going to stick up for anyone.

"He's one hit away from being reported and that sort of stuff can happen and don't say it can't.

"An injury here an injury there. (In 2001) we had Stephen Paxman get a knee injury in round 22, (in 2002) we had (Darryl) Wakelin in round 20 get smashed in the face.

"These sort of things happen and gee, they derail a finals campaign so there's a lot of games to go."

Geelong have already stitched up the minor premiership and are a hot flag favourite, having notched a 15th successive win by beating the Kangaroos at Telstra Dome on Sunday.

But Williams said Port's blend of young guns and players with premiership experience meant his side was capable of anything.

"We're not setting any limits on it," he said.

"There's bubbly enthusiasm with youth and there's still nine or 10 who have won a grand final and there's not too many teams (have that).

"That's a good mix and we're certainly not going to walk away.

"We want to have something to say about what happens the rest of the year."

Port's win secured a finals berth for one of the season's surprise packets, which missed out last year and was expected to rebuild this season instead of challenging for top honours.

"Players are excited about being back in the finals," Williams said.

"For the first time in six years we missed the finals last year so we're back. That's great."

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