Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley believes his team’s 17-point AFL win over Greater Western Sydney shows they deserve their place at the top of the ladder.
The 9.9 (63) to 6.10 (46) win over the Giants was far from a polished performance by either team at Metricon Stadium but it ticked an important box for Hinkley following last weekend’s loss to Brisbane.
“Good teams respond. Good teams win when they have to, they win after they’ve had a poor performance,” Hinkley said.
“That’s really pleasing against quality opposition.
“That’s a significant step for us and we’re on top of the ladder, we deserve to be on top of the ladder.”
The victory puts the Power a win clear at the summit with five victories and just the one defeat in 2020.
The Power began brightly and restricted GWS to just one point in the opening term, with the Giants’ first goal not coming until the eighth minute of the second quarter when 150-gamer Toby Greene snapped home.
Port failed to take advantage on the scoreboard however and the Giants responded in the third term to hit the front, with only Charlie Dixon’s goal after the three-quarter-time siren ensuring the Power headed into the final term ahead.
Jeremy Finlayson put the Giants back in front at the start of the fourth but it was a 55m drop punt on the run by Kane Farrell which provided the crucial momentum shift.
From there Port kicked two more goals to take an unassailable lead and claim their first win in five years over the Giants.
Farrell was one of nine separate single goalkickers for the Power while Jeremy Cameron’s two goals for GWS made him the only multiple goalkicker of the match.
Both teams lost a player before halftime with Connor Sutcliffe injuring his right hamstring for the Power and Daniel Lloyd succumbing to concussion after a first-quarter collision with Cameron.
Power veteran Brad Ebert is also facing a nervous wait after being placed on report in the first quarter for a hip and shoulder on GWS midfielder Harry Perryman.
“It’s not for me to decide,” Hinkley said of Ebert’s bump.
“Brad’s as fair a player as you can get. He’s had as many head knocks as anyone in the world, so he understands what goes on … we’ll let the people who look at those things take care of it.”
Giants coach Leon Cameron felt his team had battled hard against a good opponent but were clearly second best in the closing stages of the match.
“Up until three-quarter time it was probably a pretty even battle in patches but they put the foot down and we didn’t,” Cameron said.
“They dominated us in the last 15 minutes of the game.”
Richmond again struggled to kick a big score but still squeezed their way back into the AFL’s top-eight with a dour eight-point win over Sydney on Sunday.
To make matters worse for the Swans, they face a spell without co-captain Josh Kennedy, who limped from the field with a medial-ligament strain to his left knee in the opening quarter.
The Tigers kicked three majors in a blistering opening 10 minutes to put a break on their opponents, but a Gabba downpour quickly turned the match into a slugfest.
The teams managed just three goals between them after quarter-time as the Tigers prevailed, 4.10 (34) to 3.8 (26).
It was the second-lowest combined match total in the AFL era as Richmond failed to capitalise on their inside-50 dominance (53-36).
The Tigers overcame the loss of five key players – captain Trent Cotchin, Toby Nankervis, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards – from the previous week’s victory over Melbourne.
Kane Lambert (23 disposals), Jayden Short (25) and Jack Higgins (19) stepped up to do plenty of grunt work as Dylan Grimes held the back line together.
Dustin Martin and Shai Bolton were both dangerous at times in attack with one goal each and seven clearances between them.
The only dampener on the Tigers’ win was a late bump from Marlion Pickett that caught Isaac Heeney high and will be scrutinised by the match review officer.
Sydney fielded nine players with fewer than 30 games’ experience and were far from disgraced in a gritty performance against the reigning premiers.
But their ultimately disappointing afternoon was compounded by injuries to Heeney and Kennedy.
Kennedy limped off with a left-knee injury before quarter-time while Heeney hurt his right ankle early but played on before being helped off the field in the final stages.
Sydney’s difficult day started with a contentious deliberate rushed behind call on Callum Mills, who was pushed over the goal line by Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt.
Mills was penalised anyway and Riewoldt kicked the first of three Tigers goals in the first term from the resulting free kick.
The Swans left out versatile tall Aliir Aliir in a surprise selection decision before the bounce, leaving Hayden McLean to ruck against Ivan Soldo.
They backed undersized defenders Dane Rampe (188cm) and Robbie Fox (186cm) to take on Riewoldt (193cm) and Tom Lynch (199cm).
It worked to a degree as Riewoldt and Lynch, who was nursing a sore hand after minor surgery on Monday, were held to one goal each.
Tom Papley was the only multiple goal kicker, with two for the Swans, as Mills (29 disposals), Jake Lloyd (24) and Ryan Clarke (23) worked hard all day.
Richmond will remain in their Queensland hub for a meeting with North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, while Sydney return home to tackle Gold Coast at the SCG.