PORT Adelaide has kept alive its flickering finals hopes after a six-goal third-quarter blitz led it to a 23-point victory over Sydney at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon.
In-form forward Todd Marshall booted four goals for the Power, who fought back after Sydney kicked the first three goals of the game, to win 12.10 (82) to 8.11 (59).
POWER v SWANS Full match coverage and stats
The victory improved the 12th-placed Power to a 6-7 record to be two wins outside the eight, having come into the game dropping two of their past three, while Sydney is seventh with an 8-5 ledger.
Port, which has struggled to score this season, blew the game open after leading by four points at the main change, piling on six goals inside 17 third-quarter minutes, having 13 inside 50s before Sydney's first of the term.
Charlie Dixon, in his third game after injury, booted two in the third although Sydney wasn't helped by ex-Port ruckman Peter Ladhams' ill-discipline which may see him come under Match Review Officer (MRO) scrutiny for a hit on Ollie Wines.
Brownlow medallist Wines was outstanding with 34 disposals, including 14 contested possessions and 10 clearances, with good support from Connor Rozee (29 disposals and a goal) in the midfield, the latter stepping up after Zak Butters was subbed out due to a knee injury following a bright start.
Port, which was without onballer Travis Boak due to health and safety protocols along with managed veteran Robbie Gray, also lost debutant ruckman Brynn Teakle to a collarbone injury before half-time.
Riley Bonner and Ryan Burton both offered run off half-back with 27 and 20 disposals along with 513 and 607 metres gained respectively. Karl Amon had 31 possessions on the wing too.
Isaac Heeney was Sydney's best, finishing with four goals including two in the last, along with a game-high nine score involvements. Callum Mills (27 disposals with 11 contested possessions) and Luke Parker (26 disposals with 10 clearances and five tackles) were tireless in midfield for the Swans too.
On his return from suspension, Lance Franklin kicked the game's opening goal as the Swans got the jump on Port, which hit back with four successive majors to lead at quarter-time.
Butters and Teakle both went down injured in a chaotic and tense second quarter with Sydney's defensive turnovers costly as Port won the tackle count 72-51 for the game.
The Power raced clear in the third, stretching their lead out to 42 points at one stage, but didn't kick a goal in the last as Heeney made the score respectable.
Ladhams set for MRO scrutiny
Emotions got the better of Ladhams in a nightmare third term as he faced his former club for the first time since being traded to Sydney in the off-season after 32 games in five years at Port. Ladhams gave away two needless off-the-ball free kicks which directly resulted in goals, from Sam Powell-Pepper and Dixon, as the Power piled on six goals to pull clear. The Swans ruckman may come under MRO scrutiny too, with the latter free kick coming after a gut punch to a grounded Wines following a tackle.
Pair of injury concerns for Port
Port will be sweating on injuries to Butters and mid-season draftee Teakle, who both went down in the second quarter. Butters was hurt when Harry Cunningham landed awkwardly on his left knee in a tackle. The young gun limped off and tried to return after assessment and strapping but simply couldn't run and was subbed out. Debutant ruckman Teakle hurt his left collarbone when he bumped Justin McInerney and was seen in a sling just before half-time. He looked lively beforehand.
Marshall silences the critics
Amid Port's early five-game losing run, Marshall was arguably the side's most maligned player, managing only six goals in those five games. However, the 23-year-old forward has responded to the criticism emphatically since, booting 21 goals in his past eight games, setting up this win with three first-half majors, before slotting a wonderful set shot from the boundary early in the third-quarter blitz. He had eight marks for the game. Marshall's accuracy is also a feature too, with a brilliant return of 27.7 this season.
PORT ADELAIDE 4.3 6.6 12.8 12.10 (82)
SYDNEY 3.1 5.8 6.10 8.11 (59)
Port Adelaide: Marshall 4, Dixon 2, Butters, Rozee, Houston, Powell-Pepper, Burton, Bonner
Sydney: Heeney 4, Franklin, Mills, Hayward, Ladhams
Port Adelaide: Wines, Bonner, Marshall, Rozee, Amon, Burton
Sydney: Heeney, Parker, Mills, McInerney
Port Adelaide: Butters (knee), Teakle (collarbone)
Port Adelaide: Xavier Duursma (replaced Butters in the second quarter)
Sydney: Braeden Campbell (unused)