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Kangaroos 'no more Port's bogey side'

By Daniel Brettig 17/09/2007 05:58:27 PM Comments (0)

Coach Mark Williams believes Port Adelaide have grown out of the Kangaroos hex that dogged the Power through their formative years in the AFL.

A preliminary final date with the Kangaroos might have produced shudders of apprehension at Port's Alberton headquarters as recently as three years ago, when the Power won the 2004 flag despite losing to the `Roos by 92 points in mid-season.

At that point, Port had defeated the Kangaroos just once in 11 meetings, and even now the record is a decidedly ugly four wins against 13 defeats.

Yet Williams feels sure that the days of Port turning up for a Kangaroos match-up filled with trepidation are over, pointing to a 4-4 ledger in matches between teams coached by Williams and Dean Laidley.

The Power can also refer to a 77-point hiding of the `Roos in a 2005 elimination final as proof they no longer have a bogy side.

With the benefit of a week off to rest tired bodies, Port should start Saturday's final as warm favourites, but Williams was adamant there would be no trace of complacency.

"The last eight games we've played is 50/50 so I suspect we've walked past that particular tag, but we certainly respect what they've done - it'll be a huge game but one we expect to win," Williams said.

"We'll certainly approach the game the same way without underestimating or undervaluing North because we know the passion they will bring to the game."

Williams' own high regard for the Kangaroos was there for all to see last week, when he correctly predicted the team that faced Hawthorn would bear no resemblance to the `Roos group that was bullied off the MCG by a driven Geelong.

Port's match committee flew to Melbourne to watch the semi-final up close.

Having seen Laidley's team successfully defuse the potentially unstoppable Hawks forward line, Williams said there would be much the same pressure on his team to execute their free-flowing game in the face of concerted pressure from the Kangaroos.

"Dean and his assistant coaches were just brilliantly prepared (to defeat Hawthorn) and all credit to them, they've had a wonderful year and they prepared well," he said.

"I thought it was a good team performance and they stopped a lot of the best Hawthorn players.

"They finished right up the top of the ladder and they played up to their season's form rather than how they played against Geelong.

"I think we've all learned from blowouts in finals when there's an extra chance teams do say `well we can't win this one, let's get on the next one' and that's what they did."

Port's squad, including All-Australian nominees Chad and Kane Cornes, Brendon Lade and Brett Ebert, trained with freedom for 70 minutes on Monday afternoon.

Among the best performers was the soon to be retired Darryl Wakelin, who Williams admitted was facing an uphill battle to regain his spot ahead of younger key defender Alipate Carlile.

"(Wakelin) is a 50/50 chance, he trained well, and we will see how it goes for the rest of the week," Williams said.

"We could go in unchanged, certainly the side has been playing pretty well and you can easily argue that no-one deserves to be left out."

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