A PROFESSIONAL Port Adelaide unit has done enough to reclaim top spot with a win against a spirited Sydney at Adelaide Oval.
POWER v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
Holding a 32-point half-time buffer, the Power looked set to canter to victory before taking their foot off the pedal to allow the Swans back into the contest.
>> WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS IN THE PLAYER ABOVE
The visitors got within 18 points at the final break before Charlie Dixon's stunning fourth goal early in the last term swung back the momentum for the Power, who won 11.7 (73) to 7.5 (47).
After Geelong fleetingly held top spot following victory over the Western Bulldogs on Friday night, the Power wrested it back with just three games left in their season.
ROUNDS 14-18 Check out the full fixture
Port champion Robbie Gray starred in the opening term with two majors and 11 disposals as the Swans were suffocated by the home side's forward pressure.
Ken Hinkley's men registered 11 forward 50 tackles in the opening term before setting up their imposing lead at the main break through a 30-10 clearance dominance.
A number of tactical moves – including Aliir Aliir into the ruck, Callum Sinclair forward and Tom McCartin to defence – had the Swans hold the Power goalless in the third term.
The Swans could have bridged the margin more at the final break had they taken their chances in front of goal.
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But Dixon's fourth – and 27th of the season – early in the last term fended off the Swans and kept the spearhead within sight of Coleman Medal leader Tom Hawkins (35).
Tom Rockliff, Ollie Wines and Sam Powell-Pepper combined for 18 clearances, while Gray finished with a game-high 10 score involvements to be the best man on the ground.
Battle of Nic Nat's understudies
Scott Lycett (2018) and Callum Sinclair (2015) both departed West Coast to become No.1 ruckmen after spending time behind Nic Naitanui. On Saturday, Lycett took the points as they met again. The Power dominated the first-half clearances 30-10, despite Sinclair leading the Swans to a 21-19 hitout count. It prompted Swans coach John Longmire to swing Sinclair forward, with Aliir Aliir replacing him in the middle to arrest the differential and Tom McCartin moving back and holding his own on Charlie Dixon. The only dampener on Lycett's day was a brutal falcon during the third term.
Butters melts under no pressure
Power second-year sensation Zak Butters looked set to waltz into an open goal and extend his side's lead during the first team. But after two quick bounces, Butters stumbled before hyper-extending his left knee in what appeared a nasty incident. Fortunately, it had no impact on his day, the 19-year-old continuing his hot recent form to finish with 13 disposals and a goal.
Ebert's nasty egg after head clash
After a well-documented series of concussions, Brad Ebert's heavy head knock had the Power officials holding their breath in the third term. The veteran was taken from the ground for assessment before re-emerging with a monster egg on his right cheekbone. Incredibly, he returned to the field in the final term to play out the match.
PORT ADELAIDE 4.3 8.3 8.4 11.7 (73)
SYDNEY 3.1 3.1 5.4 7.5 (47)
Port Adelaide: Dixon 4, Gray 2, Sutcliffe, Boak, Wines, Butters, Westhoff
Sydney: Reid 2, Papley, Sinclair, Dawson, Blakey, Bell
Port Adelaide: Gray, Wines, Rockliff, Dixon, Boak, Powell-Pepper, Lycett
Sydney: Kennedy, Lloyd, Dawson, Papley, Clarke, McCartin
Port Adelaide: Ebert (cheekbone)