AFL ladder leader Port Adelaide has put a horror week behind the club by grinding out a 10-point win over Hawthorn on Saturday.
- Port Adelaide and Hawthorn were level at three-quarter time before the Power iced the win in the fourth term
- The Power’s win came in the wake of two of their players being suspended for COVID-19 protocol breaches
- The Western Bulldogs beat Melbourne by 28 points to move back inside the top eight
Earlier on Saturday, the Western Bulldogs re-entered the top eight following a 28-point victory over Melbourne on the Gold Coast.
The under-strength Hawks shocked the Power by kicking the opening three goals at Adelaide Oval and scores were level at three-quarter time.
But the home side prevailed, 9.14 (68) to 9.4 (58), after young star Zak Butters sliced through a forward-50 stoppage to collect Scott Lycett’s expert ruck tap and kick the sealer with two minutes left.
Milestone man Tom Rockliff (28 disposals) starred in his 200th AFL match and fellow veteran Travis Boak (33) continued his outstanding season.
The Power’s positive result came after an embarrassing last-start defeat to Geelong and costly COVID-19 protocol breaches by Peter Ladhams and Dan Houston, who were suspended on Thursday.
Charlie Dixon rebounded from a goalless showing against the Cats with two majors and Indigenous star Sam Powell-Pepper (21 disposals) was a constant threat for Port Adelaide in the competition’s feature Sir Doug Nicholls Round.
Former Power players Chad Wingard, Shaun Burgoyne (two goals each) and Jarman Impey (one) were all prominent for Hawthorn, as were James Worpel (26 touches) and Tom Mitchell (25).
The Hawks’ early intensity and hot start saw the visitors kick the opening three goals, raising hopes of an upset.
Tempers flared during the second quarter as Stratton and Dixon clashed, with the Power forward eventually losing his jumper in the ensuing melee.
Dixon could also come under scrutiny from the match review officer for pushing his elbow into Stratton’s head as they wrestled on the ground.
Like Rockliff, Hawthorn captain Stratton was making his 200th senior appearance.
It looked like his side might help him celebrate by causing a major upset until Port Adelaide took control of general play in the final quarter, kicking 2.4 to 1.0 in the process to complete a hard-fought victory.
The Power will start favourites again when they meet Sydney on Saturday in the second of four straight matches against teams currently positioned outside the top eight.
Hawthorn has now lost seven of its last eight matches and tackle Essendon on Thursday night.
Bulldogs move inside top eight
Rocked by the 11th-hour withdrawal of Nathan Jones (quad injury), the Demons led by seven points at half-time in the round-13 encounter before the Bulldogs kicked six consecutive goals to set up the 12.8 (80) to 7.10 (52) win in Carrara.
The victory saw Luke Beveridge’s Bulldogs (7-6 win-loss record) take the Demons’ (6-6) spot inside the top eight with five rounds to play.
The Bulldogs have not been inside the eight since round nine.
Mitch Wallis dominated on goal for the Bulldogs with four majors for the match, while Jack McRae, Bailey Smith, Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli and Tom Liberatore all had between 22 and 26 disposals.
Christian Petracca (26 disposals, eight clearances), Angus Brayshaw and Jack Viney were busy but helpless during the third-term onslaught from the Bulldogs that ultimately decided the contest.
The Bulldogs clicked into gear after the main break when they opted to handball through the midfield.
The ever-lurking Wallis benefited, kicking two of his majors in the third term, while Bailey Williams was gifted another when Jake Melksham gave away a 50-metre penalty.
Liberatore was efficient early in the match, with nine of his first 10 possessions contested. He also kicked a goal as the two sides traded majors in the first half.
Aside from losing Jones before the match, the Demons were struck down by an injury blow during the contest, with Tom Sparrow helped from the field with a suspected shoulder injury.