Power eager to beat horror Pies hoodoo
Port Adelaide is inspired by challenges this AFL season - and the latest is beating Collingwood to change the record books and perceptions.
The Power (4-2) has never beaten the Magpies under the roof at Melbourne's Docklands stadium, a task that is the secondary challenge in Port Adelaide's third consecutive Friday Night Football appearance.
The major aim - after defying AFL premier West Coast in Perth and dealing with expectation against lowly North Melbourne at Adelaide Oval - is to deliver a statement against the league's measuring stick, Collingwood. It also will be a key test of coach Ken Hinkley's new play book.
"If we want to be one of the best sides in the competition, we have to look forward to all these big games," said Burton, who has a 3-1 record in clashes with the Magpies from his AFL start at Hawthorn.
"West Coast in Perth was big. And winning that game has given this young group a lot of confidence. It proves the (new) game style we are playing works - and everyone is buying in.
"We know that when we do what we want to do, it can really cut teams apart," added Burton, noting the Power must make a strong start to challenge the Magpies.
Port Adelaide last played Collingwood at the Docklands in 2012 with that game marking the fourth consecutive loss to the Magpies under the roof.
Burton rates the against North Melbourne encounter - in particular the last-quarter scare - as a near-perfect lead-up to leading with the Magpies.
"They (Collingwood) are going to play that run-and-gun style, similar to what North Melbourne tried to do. So we are going to need to learn from what happened on Friday night," Burton said.
"We will need to counteract that for a whole game (rather than part of a quarter) against Collingwood. The key will be, starting well - to get some runs on the board."
Burton played his sixth game with the Power - and first without unit leader, co-captain Tom Jonas who was a late withdrawal with a calf strain.
"We're pretty comfortable with each other back there - and rely on each other pretty heavily," said Burton of a defence that has no player with 100 AFL matches to his name.
"Everyone had to step up more; everyone had to take another five to 10 per cent to stand up in that leadership space."
The notable gain for the Power defence is the return to form of key defender Dougal Howard, after being on the outer as coach Ken Hinkley opted for Jack Watts in the first two rounds. He is to be a critical part of Port Adelaide's planning to counter big American Mason Cox this week.
"Dougal has been outstanding; he was probably a bit stiff to miss out at the start of the year," Burton said. "There are eight or nine defenders that could have easily played (AFL). He had to perform the last couple of weeks - and he has.
"And we love how aggressive he is in the air."
Port Adelaide's review of the second half against the Kangaroos - from a match that had a 41-point lead 11 minutes into the last term challenged by North Melbourne's unanswered five-goal run - will be bittersweet.
"The boys might have been a bit fatigued," Burton said. "And the Kangaroos attacked the corridor because they had to do everything to win.
"So it was one of those ugly wins that happens every now and then. But it gives us confidence we can win when things don't go our way."
The Power did hold the ball far better than it did against Brisbane at the Gabba where a 10-point lead in time-on was lost to the harder running and faster Lions.
"It shows we have a pretty united group - and we have a lot of passion and confidence in one another," Burton said. "When teams come at us pretty hard, we can stand up to them.
"We've missed a couple of times (to Brisbane and Richmond), but we got this one (against North Melbourne).
"It is the belief the group has - and more games together with this (new) game style - that leaves us excited out there and playing for one another."