Port Adelaide ended a turbulent week with a statement win against Essendon at Marvel Stadium by 84 points.
The Power kicked nine goals in a row, including seven in a second-quarter onslaught, to put an at times insipid Essendon to the sword and condemn the Bombers to their biggest loss of the season.
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It was an emphatic response from Port, whose embattled coach Ken Hinkley was given assurance during the week from club president David Koch that he would remain as coach in 2023, after losing its past four games.
Essendon recorded several unwanted milestones including coach Ben Rutten’s biggest-ever defeat — his most points conceded as Bombers coach and Essendon’s second-biggest loss against the Power.
Rutten slammed his side’s “embarrassing effort” after fans booed players from the ground.
On the Fox Footy coverage, a spectator was overheard screaming: “This is f***ing embarrassing.”
Former Port Adelaide star Kane Cornes told SEN: “Essendon is just been a nice team. At not one point today has someone thrown their weight around. They’re too nice, and that’s been on full display this afternoon. Not one Port Adelaide player will be sore after this game.”
After announcing a record number of members during the week, Rutten apologized to Essendon fans.
“We’re bitterly disappointed,” he said.
“It was the sort of game that our members and supporters who came to the game or were watching on TV… it’s not the sort of thing they should have to watch.
“It was an embarrassing effort from our guys. It’s not something we want to stand for and not something our members and supporters should have to watch at any stage.”
Rutten said he couldn’t put his finger on where it fell apart for the Bombers, who had the better of territory and seven shots to five in the first quarter.
But from there it was all the Power, who slammed on 18 goals to six.
The Essendon coach said while the result wasn’t acceptable, it didn’t shake his belief in where his side is going.
“At the back end of the first quarter we got ourselves back into the game,” Rutten said.
“But from the second quarter it was really poor.
“It doesn’t shake my belief in where we’re going. It’s not a great result in terms of tonight’s performance.
“It’s about us being strong and clear on where we’re going and what we’re trying to build because it’s never going to be a clean progression in becoming a great team.
“Performances like that is not stuff we can accept or tolerate, and we won’t.”
Rutten stopped short of saying whether he would give his players a chance to bounce back next week against Richmond or if there would be wholesale changes, but said everyone connected to the side felt the loss.
“It hurts me, it hurts the players and everyone who is putting in to get us to where we want to get to,” he said.
“I’ll have to have a look at that (making wholesale changes).
“The good thing is there is one week to go for us and an opportunity for us to finish the year playing a brand of footy the way we want to.”
Michael Hurley took another step towards an AFL return by getting through a VFL game on Sunday, and Rutten hinted the veteran swingman could play his first game in more than two years.
“That’ll be a discussion point for us, he got through the game at VFL level, that’s certainly something we’ll be looking at,” Rutten said.