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Never-say-die Port pleases Hinkley despite errors

Travis King  March 27, 2016 8:15 PM

'Exactly why we brought him in' Ken Hinkley pleased with the physical presence of recruit Charlie Dixon
AFL 2016 Rd 01 - Port Adelaide v St Kilda

Matt White is set for a long stint on the sidelines with a pectoral injury

KEN HINKLEY has hailed Port Adelaide's never-say-die attitude after watching his side steamroll a brave St Kilda in the final quarter to notch an important 33-point round one triumph on Sunday.

The young Saints stood up to the Power for three quarters in a frenetic contest at Adelaide Oval, with their pressure and ability to hit the scoreboard from turnovers helping them keep their noses in front at every change.

Five talking points: Port Adelaide v St Kilda

But despite being a man down due to Matt White's serious pectoral injury, the Power overran the visitors on the back of a seven-goal-to-one surge in the final term, leading Hinkley to praise his side's fitness and never-give-up approach.

"We believe that, we don't just say it. But we know that we have to continually work really hard," the Port coach said post-match.

"Let's acknowledge a couple of things, St Kilda put good pressure on us and we were our own worst enemy at times. At half-time I think they'd kicked 58 points of their 62 from turnovers.

"Some of them you've got to live with because that's St Kilda's great pressure … I think we maybe missed opportunities we shouldn't have missed.

"There was just poor execution of skill and maybe there was a bit of round one in that and St Kilda was really good as making us pay."

WATCH: Ken Hinkley's full post-match media conference

Port's stellar small forwards Robbie Gray (four goals) and Chad Wingard (three) drove the comeback after a shaky start, while Brad Ebert (three) got better as the game went on and boom recruit Charlie Dixon (three) cashed-in late.

After the Power's skill errors handed St Kilda goals on a platter in the opening quarter, Gray's three-goal burst in the second term helped keep his side in the contest and only trailing by a goal at the main break.

Hinkley said the dual best and fairest's decision to spend more time in attack was largely left to Gray, who then moved into the midfield in the third term and wrested back some control before finishing with 26 touches and eight clearances.

"I nearly leave it with Robbie, to be honest. As I said to him before the game, 'If it's going OK in the middle, spend some more time forward – we need you up there'," Hinkley said.

"We know Robbie's equally as damaging in both positions, it's a little bit of timing.

"He gets a fair licence to do what he needs to do at the right times."

In his first game in Power colours, Dixon took three marks and contested strongly in a fascinating battle with Sam Fisher.

"I thought he did exactly what we wanted him to do lots of the time," Hinkley said of Dixon.

"He was always going to be a little underdone, but I think by the end of the game (kicking) 3.3 and the amount of score we got off his contest was exactly why we brought him here."

Souring the Power's hard-fought win was speedster White's injury, which has him facing between one and three months on the sidelines.

"It could be anywhere from four weeks to three months probably, depending on how bad a rupture or if it's just a slight tear," Hinkley said.

"We won't know that until he's scanned. The symptoms are very similar whether it's bad or not so bad."

White's blow could open the door for recruit Jimmy Toumpas, who gathered 25 touches in the SANFL, or fellow emergencies Karl Amon or Aaron Young in next Saturday's Showdown against Adelaide.