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Port lick wounds after AFL loss
Greg Buckle
21:43 AEST Sun Jun 17 2012

Port Adelaide AFL coach Matthew Primus says the club's 38-point loss to Western Bulldogs has left a sour taste in his mouth heading into next week's bye.

Port have slumped to a 4-8 record this season, although Primus maintains they are definitely heading in the right direction after winning only three matches in 2011.

"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth," Primus said on Sunday.

"We had shown some good signs. We thought internally we had certainly improved as a group.

"While we get to this stage, we still think we have improved, it will feel silly and won't feel good saying that after today's performance.

"We knew we had a break coming up and we dished up that.

"Straight after today's game, you've got a bad feeling in your stomach about how you played.

"But if you look at it as a whole, I know we have improved."

Port battled injuries in the second half of Sunday's clash at Etihad Stadium, but Primus refused to blame his lack of bench players for the defeat.

Hamish Hartlett is the coach's main concern with a hamstring tear, while Jacob Surjan was subbed off in the third term with concussion and Paul Stewart had cramp and a corked thigh.

Jackson Trengove was on and off the field throughout the game because of a finger dislocation.

Gun midfielder Travis Boak (foot) is not expected back until round 15 and Robbie Gray (knee) won't return this season.

"We'd been going through it manfully over the last five weeks but today was really disappointing the way we went about our footy," Primus said.

"We were pretty second-rate. They certainly gave us a lesson in some hardness at the footy."

Defender Troy Chaplin, with 19 possessions and seven marks, saw plenty of the ball as the Bulldogs went inside their 50-metre arc 59 times to Port's 44 entries.

The home side also won the contested possessions 160-131.

"We got smashed in the contested footy," Chaplin said.

"Early on we were really fumbly (sic). Skill errors really put the backs under pressure.

"They had 13 more inside-50s than us in the first quarter."

Key defender Alipate Carlile, who was dropped this week for not meeting fitness standards at at the club, performed well in the SANFL.

"It was a great response. He certainly copped it on the chin and went about it in the right manner," Primus said.