Max Gawn during the round three match between Port Adelaide and Melbourne at Adelaide Oval, March 30, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

MELBOURNE has produced a stunning last-gasp surge to sink Port Adelaide by seven points in a thriller.

Ben Brown booted three goals including the go-ahead major in the last quarter of the Demons' 15.6 (96) to 13.11 (89) triumph at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

Melbourne trailed by four points at three-quarter time, but scored five goals to three in a frantic finale to celebrate ex-captain Jack Viney's 200th game with a victory.

POWER v DEMONS Full match coverage and stats

The Demons (three wins, one loss) dished out the Power's first loss from three outings in a fluctuating fixture, where the margin was never greater than 18 points.


Melbourne's largely unheralded duo of Alex Neal-Bullen (two goals, 24 disposals) and Trent Rivers (27 possessions) were superb.

And their decorated trio of Max Gawn (50 hitouts, 20 disposals), Christian Petracca (23 touches) and Clayton Oliver (25) were all influential, while Bailey Fritsch and Tom Sparrow kicked two goals each.


Brown's third major with a tick over seven minutes left put the visitors in front, before Fritsch threaded the sealer from an acute angle some five minutes later.

Port was well served by veteran Travis Boak (24 disposals), Ollie Wines (25), Zak Butters (25) and skipper Connor Rozee (26, one goal), while Darcy Byrne-Jones, Willie Rioli and Jeremy Finlayson scored two majors each. 


Port's small forwards Byrne-Jones, Jed McEntee and Francis Evans all snapped goals within 15 minutes as the home side raced to an 18-1 lead.

The Demons booted the next three goals, only for Power forward Charlie Dixon to convert after the quarter-time siren to give his side a 4.1 to 3.2 lead.

That advantage disappeared within 15 seconds of the start of the second stanza when Sparrow scored the first of three Melbourne goals in an eight-minute burst to put the visitors up by 13 points.


Port rallied with the next trio of majors, and a late strike from Melbourne's milestone man Viney ensured the scores were locked at 7.3 apiece at half-time.

The game remained on a knife-edge in the third term until Port made a move, with ruck recruit Ivan Soldo and Todd Marshall, in his 100th game, booting goals for a 15-point buffer some 28 minutes in.

But when the Demons appeared in strife, they responded with long goals from Brown, followed by Gawn after the three-quarter-time siren.


Port led 10.8 to 10.4 at the last change, but Melbourne booted the initial three goals of the final term to sneak 14 points ahead, before Port's Finlayson and Rozee converted to again tie the scores.

Brown then converted after an overhead mark, and Fritsch coolly iced the win from a tight angle with two and a half minutes left.

Esava is over the line
When Kysaiah Pickett lined up for goal in the second quarter there was always going to be a chance the run-around set shot would drop short, yet no Demons chose to stand on the goal line. Sure enough, the snap dipped and the only player within 10 metres was Port's Esava Ratugolea. The former Cat figured there was no need to complicate things and went for the chest mark - only problem being he was standing behind the line when the ball reached him. To add insult to injury Ratugolea dropped the 'mark'.


200 of the best
Every club has a heart-and-soul player, the type they would clone if possible. Jack Viney is that player at Melbourne, and almost is a clone of his father, former captain and 233-game Demon Todd Viney. Jack joined the old man in the 200 Club on Saturday night and it was a very typical outing: leaving the field under the blood rule in the first quarter, kicking a running goal to level scores at half-time, and finishing with a team-high tackle count of eight to go with 21 disposals and again be in the Demons' best. 


Charlie is the key for a Port challenge
After two very interrupted years Charlie Dixon has had a strong pre-season and is looking back to somewhere near his best. The big man wasn't wearing his kicking boots on Saturday, finishing with 1.2, but his hands were like vices and his aggression like a Pamplona bull. If Ken Hinkley is going to get this side to take the final steps it's been tripping over recently, he is going to need Dixon at the front, dragging his teammates along by the scruff of their necks.


PORT ADELAIDE    4.1    7.3    10.8    13.11 (89)
      3.2    7.3    10.4    15.6 (96)

Port Adelaide: Rioli 2, Byrne-Jones 2, Finlayson 2, Soldo, Rozee, McEntee, Marshall, Houston, Evans, Dixon
Melbourne: Brown 3, Neal-Bullen 2, Sparrow 2, Fritsch 2, Windsor, Viney, Pickett, Oliver, Langdon, Gawn, 

Port Adelaide: Drew, Houston, Rozee, Wines, Butters, Soldo
Melbourne: Neal-Bullen, Gawn, Petracca, Rivers, Viney, Oliver

Port Adelaide: Boak (head knock)
Melbourne: Nil

Port Adelaide: Jase Burgoyne, replaced Francis Evans in the third quarter
Melbourne: Taj Woewodin, replaced Jack Billings in the fourth quarter

Crowd: 38,105 at Adelaide Oval