Port Adelaide players celebrate a thrilling victory
PORT Adelaide has snatched back its place in the top eight, with a five-point win over St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Power led by as much as 47 points in the second quarter, but were forced to fight for victory as the Saints continued to charge.
They eventually escaped with a nailbiting 14.13 (97) to 13.14 (92) win, to boot Carlton out of eighth place on the AFL ladder.
The Saints kicked four goals to three in the last quarter, and held a three-point lead for a brief period thanks to a goal from debutant Tom Curren.
That major was allowed after a video review, but the buffer was subsequently given up when Nick Dal Santo knocked the ball out of Jasper Pittard's hand and gave away a 50m penalty.
"One of the coaches sort of groaned as it happened," Saints coach Scott Watters said.
"My eyes were somewhere else at the time so I haven't seen that one yet. It was costly. Whether it was deliberate or undisciplined I couldn't answer that."
Pittard kicked straight to claim the goal and swing the pendulum back the Power's way.
The visitors didn't make the most of their all their opportunities though, missing two goals after free kicks for an interchange infringement and an in-the-back decision that would have seen them regain control.
Instead they were forced to withstand three frenetic final minutes as the Saints threw everything including the kitchen sink at a rare win.
Leigh Montagna was gallant for the Saints with 35 possessions, six tackles and seven inside 50's, while Jack Steven tried to lift his side over the line with three goals.
Ben McEvoy also kicked three goals, while Nick Riewoldt finished with 20 disposals and two goals.
For Port Adelaide, Matthew Lobbe was instrumental in the ruck, finishing with 17 disposals and 40 hit-outs.
Matthew Broadbent had 25 disposals, while Chad Wingard continued his red-hot season with 22 touches and two goals.
"We've been in those games this year where we've come from behind and run over sides.
"It's sometimes almost impossible to stop that type of run on and to our boys' credit they were able to do that, get hold of the ball and convert a couple of times when we needed to."
The last quarter was a far cry from the first, when the Saints were unable to get their hands on the ball, as the Power dominated the clearances (16-9) and the inside 50 count (17-7).
Ken Hinkley's men made the most of that free rein, outscoring the home side seven goals to two to build a quarter-time lead of 32 points.
That was on track to continue in the second quarter, where the Power extended their lead to a game-high 47 points.
It wasn't until halfway through that quarter that the Saints finally clicked into gear.
A push and shove between Nick Riewoldt and Travis Boak over the boundary line set the tone, and a big collision between Tom Jonas and Dylan Roberton signaled a rise in tempo.
He was subbed out of the game before the beginning of the third quarter, with the incident sure to be looked at by the Match Review Panel.
A classy set shot goal from an angle by Lenny Hayes gave the Saints some heart, and they managed to stem the flow of Port goals, finishing with a competitive two goals to three for the second term.
The Saints continued their onslaught in the third quarter, kicking 5.4 to Port Adelaide's 1.2 to reduce the margin to just 13 points.
But as gallant a fight-back as it was, the Power held on to keep their finals ambitions alive.
Port Adelaide and St Kilda played out an intense last quarter. Picture: AFL Media
ST KILDA 2.2 4.5 9.9 13.14 (92)
PORT ADELAIDE 7.4 10.8 11.10 14.13 (97)
St Kilda: McEvoy 3, Steven 3, Riewoldt 2, Lee 2, Hayes, Milne, Curren
Port Adelaide: Butcher 3, Wingard 2, Westhoff 2, Pittard, Lobbe, Schulz, Monfries, Gray, Mitchell, Pittard
St Kilda: Montagna, Dal Santo, Hayes, Steven, Riewoldt
Port Adelaide: Broadbent, Hartlett, Wingard, Lobbe, Ebert, Wingard, Westhoff
St Kilda: Dylan Roberton (concussion)
Port Adelaide: Nil
St Kilda: Tom Curren replaced Dylan Roberton at half-time
Port Adelaide: Kane Mitchell replaced Jake Neade in the third quarter
Umpires: Leppard, Wenn, Pannell
Official crowd: 14,878 at Etihad Stadium