Zak Butters celebrates a goal during the round 23 match between Fremantle and Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on August 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

PORT Adelaide has kept its chances of a top-two finish and home qualifying final alive, overpowering Fremantle on Sunday to win by 16 points in the club's first ever win against the Dockers at Optus Stadium.

The Power regained some important road form ahead of September and kept the pressure on second-placed Brisbane heading into the final round, winning 11.8 (74) to 8.10 (58) in a hard-fought and sometimes chaotic clash.  

With a top-four spot secured, the Power were given a stern test by the Dockers but put their foot down through the third quarter to build a 29-point lead early in the final term.

DOCKERS v POWER Full match coverage and stats

They held on late as the Dockers kicked three of the last four goals, with small forward Darcy Byrne-Jones making sure of the result with two important final-quarter majors as the Power went back-to-back and put their late-season slump behind them.


Midfield trio Zak Butters, Connor Rozee and Jason Horne-Francis were exceptional, with Butters probably the pick of the young stars with 32 disposals, a goal and seven score involvements.

Rozee (24 and five inside 50s) was prominent early, while Horne-Francis proved influential through the third quarter on his way to finishing with eight clearances and a goal from 14 touches.


The brilliant midfielders combined to give their team an edge in clearances, despite Luke Jackson's ascendency through early periods in the ruck, taking the points against a young Fremantle onball group keen to measure themselves against the stars.

Their ability to grind out a significant win on the road will give them momentum heading into a final round clash against Richmond at home and a potential road trip in the first week of finals.

They didn't have things their own way for long periods on Sunday, with Fremantle producing a terrific pressure performance early with several chase-down tackles rewarded, setting the tone for a high-octane opening as the entire side bought in.


The Dockers had a clear approach to control the ball through uncontested marks and deny the Power turnover opportunities, racking up a massive 36 uncontested marks for the quarter and controlling territory with 15 inside 50s to seven.

It took some brilliance from Butters to square the game later in the term, converting a stoppage goal over his shoulder, and the Power took momentum into the second quarter.

With their midfield on top and ball-movement starting to gather pace, they kicked six out of seven goals to open a 16-point lead, with Horne-Francis swooping on a forward-50 groundball to kick a polished major.


The Dockers had less time with the momentum, but managed to capitalise just before half-time when debutant Tom Emmett kicked his first goal at AFL level after earning a free kick and converting from 40m to cut the margin to nine points.

Horne-Francis was the star of the third term, turning the match with four vital clearances at big moments as the Power went on a three-goal-to-one run.

Dockers Caleb Serong (27 disposals and 12 clearances) and Andrew Brayshaw (33 and five) did everything they could to drag the margin back, but it was ultimately a messy performance from the team marked by missed opportunities in attack. 


The best of Butters
The body of work from Butters on Sunday was significant, but his performance also came with a memorable early highlight. At a forward line stoppage in the first quarter, Butters produced the goal of the match when he used his right foot to snap over his shoulder under pressure. It was a good few minutes for the Brownlow Medal fancy, who had moments earlier chased down Freo speedster Sam Switkowski in the centre of the ground, ensuring the ball got forward for the eventual stoppage he would score from. Another three votes is a big possibility.


Power make sure after Jonas head knock
Captain Tom Jonas was forced from the ground in the second quarter because of the blood rule when he clashed heads with defender Ryan Burton on the goal line. He didn't return before half-time after undergoing the five-minute head injury assessment, but emerged briefly in the third quarter before again going off for more tests. The Power said they had reviewed vision and deemed they should be ultra-conservative and give Jonas the lengthier SCAT5 test in the third quarter, which he passed before returning later in the game. The club was fined $100,000 for not sending Aliir Aliir for a concussion test earlier this month. Half of that fine sits outside the club's soft cap unless they make a similar breach before the end of next season.

Tom Jonas after the round 23 match between Fremantle and Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium on August 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Emmett's big impression on debut
Trialling players and finding out about the list is important for Fremantle at this stage of the season, and they learnt on Sunday that versatile forward Tom Emmett has AFL attributes. A mature-age draftee who has overcome significant hurdles, the 23-year-old was a lively addition to the forward line, providing terrific pressure and kicking two goals. His final-quarter goal from a set shot showcased his composure under pressure, while a marking contest in the second term showcased his courage. It's been a long road to the AFL, but Emmett looks likely to stick around now and build a career. 



FREMANTLE             2.4   4.7   5.8   8.10 (58)    
PORT ADELAIDE      2.3   6.4   9.6   11.8 (74)  

Fremantle: Emmett 2, Frederick 2, Switkowski 2, Cox, Jackson
Port Adelaide: Byrne-Jones 2, Finlayson 2, Powell-Pepper 2, Butters, Horne-Francis, Lord, McEntee, Rioli

Fremantle: Serong, Schultz, Brayshaw, Henry, Jackson, Emmett
Port Adelaide: Butters, Horne-Francis, Rozee, Williams, Powell-Pepper, Finlayson

Fremantle: O'Meara (calf), Banfield (AC joint)
Port Adelaide: Jonas (head), Burton (knee)   

Fremantle: Neil Erasmus (replaced Jaeger O'Meara at half-time)
Port Adelaide: Travis Boak (replaced Ryan Burton in the third quarter)

Crowd: 38,360 at Optus Stadium