Port survives against plucky Brisbane Lions
FROM the punter who plunged $100,000 on a Brisbane loss to coach Ken Hinkley, Port Adelaide sure knows how to make its true believers sweat.
It took unbeaten Port three quarters to rein in plucky Brisbane, then hold on for a five-point win to record its best start to a season in five years.
Adelaide is in the midst of an Indian summer and Port heads were at the beach before a half time pull-through from Hinkley.
Ollie Wines (25 touches), line breaker Jared Polec (29, nine contested), half back conductor Hamish Hartlett, Brad Ebert (14 contested) and efficient Sam Gray (3 goals) ultimately repelled a Lions onslaught which included three Charlie Cameron majors.
Cedric Cox's late goal reduced Port's advantage to 18 points at the final break then Hugh McCluggage and Eric Hipwood (3) saw the host clinging to a five-point lead with three minutes left.
Sam Powell-Pepper, Charlie Dixon and Jack Watts missed chances to put the Lions away in a game where Port finished with 55 inside 50s to 43.
Brilliant Polec marked on the last line to deny Allen Christensen the matchwinner.
Former Lions skipper Tom Rockliff hadn't been sighted before booting Port's third of 7.1 in the premiership quarter. The run, accuracy, awareness and decision making Port lacked in the first half rushed back after the main break, as it had in round two against Sydney.
Justin Westhoff, Steven Motlop, Watts and captain Travis Boak also hit the scoreboard in the third term after indifferent first halves.
The Power had relied on Sam Gray's goals to keep pace with the Lions and small forward deserved his third.
Stefan Martin showed Port the hard road ahead without a recognised ruckman as Paddy Ryder recovers from an Achilles injury.
Moreover Brisbane, organised by Dayne Zorko (14 contested), Mitch Robinson (23 touches) and blessed with young guns in Tom Cutler, Cameron, Hipwood and Christensen, will take scalps this season.
Brisbane had never won at Adelaide Oval but made all the running with a five-goal second term despite losing skipper Dayne Beams to illness before the first bounce.
Port was second to the ball, riddled by disposal inefficiency, lacking awareness and inaccurate inside 50 in a first half which Brisbane led by 11 points.
Martin's 20-possession first half as a mobile ruck threat wiped the floor with Port's makeshift rivals in Justin Westhoff, Charlie Dixon and Dougal Howard.
Hinkley played a loose man in defence in the first half with Port losing clearances (22-17) without a recognised ruckman.
Hartlett was left to ignite Port time after time but his side often failed to capitalise on his silver service from half back.
Port failed to capitalise on its first-term dominance in shades of its poor 2017 conversion inside 50 while Brisbane booted four straight.
Todd Marshall proved why he is viewed as the special one at Alberton kicking a goal and setting another for Wingard to put Port ahead at the first break.
The 198cm teenager - who leads Port's goalkicking this season - needed just two touches to impact.
The Power hadn't heeded the wake up call after quarter time with Cam Rayner, Cameron's third, Zorko, Hipwood and McCluggage hushing the Power crowd.
Sam Gray's two goals for the term and Motlop merely kept the Power in touch in a game they were supposed to use a percentage booster.
PORT ADEL 4.6 7.7 14.8 14.13 (97) def BRIS LIONS 4.0 9.6 11.8 14.8 (92)
Goals: Port Adelaide: S Gray 3 S Motlop 2 B Ebert C Dixon C Wingard J Watts J Westhoff R Gray T Boak T Marshall T Rockliff.
Brisbane Lions: C Cameron 3 E Hipwood 3 H McCluggage 2 A Christensen C Cox C Rayner D Zorko N Robertson T Cutler.
BEST - Port: Wines, Polec, S Gray, Hartlett, Ebert
Lions: Martin, Zorko, Cutler, Cameron, Taylor
Umpires: Simon Meredith, Andrew Mitchell, David Harris.
Venue: Adelaide Oval.