THEY'LL take the four points, but if Port Adelaide is to play finals, and be a force in September, plenty of improvement is required.
The Power beat a plucky Bombers side by 16 points on Sunday, but after a fast start, the home team was far from convincing.
Importantly, Port’s 9.12 (66) to 6.14 (50) victory – its fifth of the year – sees its sit 11th on the ladder.
Ahead of a round 12 bye, the Power are equal on points with Gold Coast (12th) and a game behind the Bulldogs (eighth), Tigers (ninth) and Magpies (10th).
POWER v BOMBERS Full match coverage and stats
Port Adelaide dominated the opening term, despite the Bombers controlling clearances.
The Power booted four goals, while keeping Essendon goalless, although, the Bombers had six shots at goal.
The returning Charlie Dixon kicked his first goal of the year after out-marking Jake Kelly midway through the quarter. Dixon snapped truly on his left foot from the forward pocket.
Essendon’s opening goal came at the 12-minute mark of the second quarter, and it was courtesy of an unlikely source, with ruckman Andrew Phillips finally breaking the drought.
The Bombers were better in the second quarter, but their 2.9 scoreline didn’t help their cause and they went into the main break trailing by 31 points.
The second half was played in slippery conditions, with heavy rain arriving at the start of the third quarter, and the Bombers seemed to relish the wet weather.
Essendon was by far the superior team in the third quarter and gave itself a real chance of causing an upset, heading into the final change just 14 points adrift after kicking four goals to one.
The Bombers kept pressing in the final quarter, but looked out of gas, probably due to their third-term fightback.
After a goalless final term, Port Adelaide came out on top, and although Ken Hinkley will doubtless be pleased to notch another win, but with just one goal after half-time and 42 inside 50s (to the Bombers’ 50) for the game, the Power are still very much a work in progress.
Welcome back, Charlie
Port Adelaide key forward Charlie Dixon returned for his first game of 2022, after experiencing ongoing ankle issues. The veteran looked a little rusty, but took a strong mark against Jake Kelly after 15 minutes and calmly snapped a goal on his left foot. He finished with two goals from 10 touches and will no doubt be better for the run.
Another big game for Parish
Prolific ballwinner Darcy Parish finished with 39 possessions (20 kicks, 19 handballs), bettering his average of 34.6 disposals per game in 2022. Remarkably, he has had 30 possessions or more in all bar one game this year (round three against Melbourne).
Wet weather training (almost) proves genius
With rain forecast for Sunday’s clash, Essendon took the unusual approach of turning the sprinklers on for training at The Hangar on Friday. And, it paid dividends. The rain arrived at the start of the second, with the Bombers trailing by 31 points. They dominated the third quarter and kicked four goals to one to reduce the margin to 14 points at three-quarter time. They came up short in the end, but their second half was full of merit.
PORT ADELAIDE 4.2 8.4 9.8 9.12 (66)
ESSENDON 0.6 2.9 6.12 6.14 (50)
Port Adelaide: Dixon 2, Butters, Dumont, Finlayson, Marshall, Motlop, Powell-Pepper, Rozee
Essendon: Durham, Jones, Martin, McGrath, Phillips, Waterman
Port Adelaide: Wines, Rozee, Butters, Amon, Boak, Houston
Essendon: Parish, Martin, Hind, Merrett, Hobbs, Phillips
Port Adelaide: Nil
Port Adelaide: Lachie Jones (unused)
Essendon: Brayden Ham (unused)
Crowd: 25,877 at Adelaide Oval