PORT Adelaide's season is alive. Just.
In a pulsating game at Adelaide Oval on Sunday night, Port was able to hold off a brave Gold Coast by two points to move within a win of the top eight.
The 13.15 (93) to 13.13 (91) triumph was the Power’s seventh from nine games, but didn't come without some drama.
POWER v SUNS Full match coverage and stats
After sprinting to an early 26-point lead the Suns quickly wound in, the teams traded goals for most of the game before a nip-and-tuck final quarter.
When Nick Holman scrubbed home a goal with just over two minutes remaining, it set up a frantic finish.
Gold Coast again pounded the ball forward and were camped inside their forward 50 for the final 30 seconds, but were unable to come up with a winner.
Riley Bonner and Dan Houston were tireless for the victors, gathering 30 disposals each, but it was Connor Rozee (24 touches and two goals) that helped get his team over the line with some individual brilliance.
Charlie Dixon lifted after a quiet first half, while dead-eye Todd Marshall made the most of his chances with four goals.
Gold Coast will lose no admirers with its performance, refusing to go away despite trailing big early and by 13 points again at the final change.
Jarrod Witts was magnificent, while Ben Ainsworth (22 disposals, 11 score involvements) and Izak Rankine (three goals) threatened to steal victory.
Both teams now have 7-7 win-loss records.
Port got off to a blistering start, kicking the game's first three goals to lead by 18 points at the first change on the back of suffocating pressure.
Xavier Duursma got the ball rolling with a brilliant around-the-corner set shot finish, inclusive of the bow-and-arrow celebration, and was quickly backed up by goals to Kane Farrell and Mitch Georgiades.
The home team's intensity and energy around the contest was incredible, while their assertive defence was able to turn the ball over when Gold Coast managed to win it from congestion.
That all changed in the second quarter though as Jarrod Witts started manhandling any Port opponent in the ruck to give his team first use of the ball.
Goals to Mabior Chol, Mal Rosas Jnr and Rankine momentarily gave the Suns the lead before Mitch Georgiades put the home team back in front by five points before the major break.
Not once, but twice for Mabior
Twice in the second quarter Mabior Chol thought he'd kicked goals, and twice he was overturned by the AFL Edge technology that adjudicates whether the ball has hit the post. The first was a brilliant left foot snap from a tight angle that glanced the back of the left goalpost, and the second – initially judged a goal by the goal umpire – was shown to have grazed the right post. Both times the laconic Suns forward celebrated and both times he would be disappointed.
Big Charlie's big milestone
Early in the third quarter Charlie Dixon chalked up a milestone in the most unlikely fashion. Stuck on 299 career goals through the first half, including missing a gettable set shot, Port's power forward brought up No.300 with a magnificent left foot finish from the left boundary line, threading the needle from a tight angle. Dixon's first career goal came 11 years ago – it doubled as the first goal in Gold Coast's history.
Gold Coast's Adelaide Oval duck
At stages this looked like the game Gold Coast would break its duck at the Adelaide Oval, but alas – for them – it wasn't. The Suns are now a combined 0-9 when playing either Port Adelaide or the Crows at the venue, although this was the closest they'd ever come to changing that. The loss also continued their losing streak against Port that now stretches to 13. The only time Gold Coast has ever walked away with the four premiership points was the club's first ever victory in 2011 – and that was at Football Park.
PORT ADELAIDE 5.4 6.8 12.11 13.15 (93)
GOLD COAST 2.4 5.9 10.10 13.13 (91)
Port Adelaide: Marshall 4, Georgiades 2, Rozee 2, Dixon, Duursma, Farrell, Finlayson, Jones
Gold Coast: Chol 3, Rankine 3, Casboult 2, Ellis 2, Ainsworth, Holman, Rosas Jnr
Port Adelaide: Rozee, Farrell, Houston, Bonner, Marshall, Burton
Gold Coast: Ainsworth, Witts, Miller, Swallow, Rankine, Anderson
Port Adelaide: Nil
Gold Coast: Davies (knee), Rankine (shoulder)
Port Adelaide: Sam Mayes (unused)
Gold Coast: Brayden Fiorini (replaced Alex Davies in the fourth quarter)