Players celebrate a Darcy Byrne-Jones goal during the round five clash between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval on April 15, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

TODD Marshall has been ready to have the keys to Port Adelaide's forward line. On Saturday night, when his team needed him most, Marshall lifted to the occasion and got his wish.

The Power booted the final four goals of their clash with the Western Bulldogs to overrun the visitors at a drenched Adelaide Oval to claim their third win of the season with a spirited 14-point victory. 

The 10.10 (70) to 8.8 (56) result came in sweeping rain throughout the contest and after the Dogs had taken an eight-point lead early in the last quarter. That Cody Weightman goal – his fourth in his return to the team from a groin injury – looked likely to make it hard for the Power to chase down in the pouring rain until Marshall stepped up.

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On an otherwise quiet night for the key forward, Marshall kicked truly from a set shot close to goal and then backed it up with a brilliant kick from the boundary line to restore Port's lead. They never gave it back.


Zak Butters was the best afield, with his tireless 32-disposal game capped with a crafty goal with three minutes remaining. His past fortnight has reminded the football world of his talents through the midfield as he's brought an important spark to the Power. 

Connor Rozee (26 disposals) and Ollie Wines (26) worked hard, while Dan Houston's impact was big. 

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Under soaked conditions throughout as Adelaide's Gather Round rain finally hit, the Dogs were led by Weightman, who was sensational with a game-high haul of goals, captain Marcus Bontempelli and ruckman Tim English. 


The game was a slog from the start, with Port Adelaide having the upper hand of the first term, as they adapted to the conditions. 

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The hardness of Sam Powell-Pepper was evident and saw the Power register their first goal, while Darcy Byrne-Jones' left-foot snap around the body defied the rain to be a highlight.


Eight scoring shots to three should have seen Ken Hinkley's side further ahead than the 15-point break they took into the second term. 

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Weightman was the spark for the Dogs in the second quarter, booting two goals with polish inside-50. It was Bontempelli, however, who was the force behind the Bulldogs' bounce back. The champion midfielder amassed 15 disposals and 10 clearances in the first half working in tandem with English as the Dogs found their groove.


A late goal to Byrne-Jones though, following a brilliant tackle and then pass from the classy Butters, saw the Power hold a nine-point lead at half-time. 

But the partnership of Weightman and Bontempelli again were standing in the way of the Power jumping further ahead, with the pair both slotting goals to start the third term and take the lead off Port for the first time of the night. 


The Dogs lifted around the ball – Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore, in his 200th game, were all important – but the Power kept in touch as the game see-sawed. 

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Port Adelaide looked set to go goalless for the quarter until Dan Houston's long bomb late in the term, before the Bulldogs responded through Mitch Hannan, who was awarded a free kick by the non-controlling umpire for high contact. 


With the game in the balance, Port turned again to its growing leaders in a frantic final quarter, as Butters and Marshall stepped up and Jason Horne-Francis produced a dominant 11-disposal final term when it mattered. 

Aliir does it again
Last week it was the on-the-goal line spoil that saw Aliir Aliir be Port Adelaide's hero against Sydney. This time, it was an in-the-goalsquare tackle that saved his side. In the dying minutes and with a premium on every goal, Bulldogs key forward Aaron Naughton looked set for a certain goal when he gathered the ball a metre out. But Aliir's athleticism matched that of the Bulldog, with the Port key defender tackling him down and forcing the behind when it was on the line. Literally.  

Aliir Aliir tackles Aaron Naughton during the round five clash between Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval on April 15, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Dogs get their spark back
The impact of Cody Weightman's absence for the Dogs in the first month became even more apparent with his return to the side on Saturday night. After overcoming a nagging groin injury, the livewire forward was immediately into the action against the Power, taking a big mark in the wet in the opening quarter and then booting two goals in the second term to help drag his team back into the game. Weightman, in his first game wearing the Dogs' famous No.3 guernsey, then slotted his third goal off the ground in the third term, showing his array of skills and his fourth at the start of the final quarter. 


DBJ's forward shift
Port Adelaide's shuffle of its defence ahead of its trip to Sydney last week saw vice-captain Darcy Byrne-Jones pulled out of the back half and made the substitute. He was influential when he did come on the ground in Port's stirring win, but backed it up with an even bigger say on the game against the Bulldogs with a goal in the first and second quarters. When every major was like gold, Byrne-Jones' contributions and tenacity were critical for the Power. His scoreboard say was also a rarity for the 27-year-old, who entered the game having kicked just seven goals in his previous 154 games. 


PORT ADELAIDE           3.5   5.8    6.10   10.10 (70)
WESTERN BULLDOGS   1.2   4.5     7.6     8.8 (56)

Port Adelaide:
 Marshall 2, Byrne-Jones 2, Powell-Pepper, McEntee, Houston, Duursma, Boak, Butters
Western Bulldogs: Weightman 4, Naughton, Hannan, English, Bontempelli

Port Adelaide:
 Butters, Rozee, Houston, Wines, Horne-Francis
Western Bulldogs: Weightman, Bontempelli, English, Liberatore, Johannisen, Macrae

Port Adelaide:
Western Bulldogs: Bruce (ribs) 

Port Adelaide:
 Jackson Mead (replaced Scott Lycett in the third quarter)
Western Bulldogs: Toby McLean (replaced Josh Bruce in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 45,115 at Adelaide Oval