Miles Bergman celebrates a goal during the round five match between Port Adelaide and Fremantle at Adelaide Oval, April 13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT Adelaide has survived Fremantle's strangling defence, with a clutch late goal from young star Jason Horne-Francis helping propel the Power to a thrilling three-point win at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

As they had against Carlton one week earlier, the Dockers led for much of the night and looked poised to secure a big scalp on the road, but the Power surged late to win 9.12 (66) to 9.9 (63), ending a heartbreaking extended road trip for Freo.

The Dockers had held a nine-point lead during time on of the fourth quarter after Andrew Brayshaw snapped a brilliant goal in traffic, but the Power responded when key forward Charlie Dixon took a massive pack mark and converted with less than five minutes to play.

POWER v DOCKERS Full match coverage and stats

Horne-Francis then moved forward and took a contested grab opposed to Brandon Walker, keeping his cool to convert before Port Adelaide scrambled to the line and survived some late attacks from Fremantle, included a rushed shot in traffic from Caleb Serong.


The win leaves the Power 4-1, having held up against the best defensive team in the AFL right now. For the Dockers (3-2), the performance adds some weight to their credentials in 2024, but leaves the team plenty to ponder after another low-scoring match was taken from their hands late.

In a battle of two of the best young midfields, Port pair Connor Rozee (26 disposals and eight inside 50s) and Zak Butters (23 and a goal) were excellent, while Horne-Francis had his big moment late.


Freo pair Caleb Serong (29, nine clearances and eight inside 50s) and Hayden Young (27 and six tackles) had their measure at the coalface, but it was the Power's ability to get free in big moments late that was most impactful.

Ultimately, it was a match full of unused momentum followed by quick counterpunches that did maximum damage, with Port Adelaide's pair of late goals doing just that after Fremantle's extended periods on top in the game.


The Dockers set the tone early and jumped into the contest well, getting the game on their terms through midfield ascendency and a brilliant backline that was able to repeatedly intercept.  

They struggled to pierce through the Power defence with the ball, however, and had only a slim lead when Butters and Rozee started to work into the game and allowed Port to take its turn with the momentum.


The Power got better bang for buck, too, with threatening forwards Mitch Georgiades and Todd Marshall kicking back-to-back goals to create a seven-point buffer at the first break.

After an animated discussion with Ken Hinkley at quarter-time, veteran forward Charlie Dixon made a statement to start the second term, taking a big contested mark in the goalsquare and kicking his first goal.


The quarter belonged to Freo, however, and young forward Treacy, who booted three goals in a five-minute burst, the last of which was set up by the sharp movement and neat kicking of small defender Brandon Walker.

With an edge in the contest and hard-earned clearance ascendency, the Dockers had a path to victory if they could continue to hold the Power's scoring at bay. They were able to through the third quarter, despite Port's 16-7 advantage in forward entries, with only four points separating the teams at the last break.


From there, Port ratcheted up the pressure and got the job done in the big moments, rising to second on the ladder, winning with their lowest score of the season, and proving they could survive the Freo strangle.

It wasn't his night, but Dixon got his moment
Fremantle captain Alex Pearce has been in career-best form this season and started Saturday night's clash with a dominant opening quarter against Charlie Dixon. The Freo defender had seven intercepts from his 10 possessions before quarter time, while Dixon had two handballs, leading to an animated conversation between the powerful forward and coach Ken Hinkley. Dixon responding immediately with a big contested mark in the goalsquare to open the second quarter, but the biggest stamen was still to come, with the 33-year-old rising in the final five minutes of the game to take a powerful pack mark and kick a pivotal goal.

Charlie Dixon celebrates a goal during the round five match between Port Adelaide and Fremantle at Adelaide Oval, April 13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Treacy's purple patch
The best return of Fremantle forward Josh Treacy's career going into Saturday night was three goals, which he'd achieved three times, mist recently against Brisbane in round one this season. It's a tally he matched in a five-minute burst halfway through the second quarter. Treacy was unstoppable in that purple patch, taking contested marks, converting long set shots, and using his smarts to get free. Impressive throughout with his ability to work up the ground, crash packs and use the ball well to his fellow key forwards, Treacy didn't hit the scoreboard again, with a new career-best eluding him for this week. 


Rucks do it differently
Ivan Soldo led the AFL for score launches going into Saturday night with five a game, and he was again able to get first hands to the ball against Fremantle with 54 hit-outs to Luke Jackson's 22. The Dockers played to Soldo's hits, however, and were able to frequently win the ball off his hands. That included the versatile Jackson, who won seven clearances himself and an equal game-high three centre clearances. The Dockers won the centre clearances as a team 13-5 in what might be Jackson's last game as the No.1 ruckman before Sean Darcy returns, but they didn't get full return on the scoreboard.  


PORT ADELAIDE       3.3    4.5    6.9    9.12 (66)
FREMANTLE              2.2    5.5    7.7    9.9 (63)

Port Adelaide: Dixon 2, Georgiades 2, Bergman, Butters, Marshall, Rioli, Horne-Francis
Fremantle: Treacy 3, Amiss 2, Banfield, Brayshaw, Emmett, Taberner

Port Adelaide: Rozee, Houston, Butters, Georgiades, Farrell, Zerk-Thatcher
Fremantle: Serong, Pearce, Ryan, Young, Treacy, Clark  

Port Adelaide: Zerk-Thatcher (right shoulder)
Fremantle: Nil

Port Adelaide: Jackson Mead (replaced Jed McEntee at three-quarter time)
Fremantle: Neil Erasmus (replaced Jaeger O'Meara in the fourth quarter)

Crowd: 35,658 at Adelaide Oval