Dan Houston takes a selfie with teammates after the round 16 clash between Port Adelaide and Essendon at the MCG on July 1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley wasn't confident Dan Houston would convert his after-the-siren winner from beyond 50 which clinched the Power's thrilling four-point victory over Essendon on Saturday night.

Houston became the 57th player in VFL/AFL history to kick a goal after the siren to win a match after marking Nic Martin's rushed clearance on the 50m line on a 45-degree angle with 18 seconds left.

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The Power defender's set shot was always on target, but on a wet night with a heavy ball, distance was going to be the challenge with Houston's effort narrowly clearing a large pack on the goal line for the decisive goal, which required a score review.

Hinkley, who cameras showed grinning on the sidelines as Houston walked in to take his shot, conceded he wasn't confident.

"If you've got a choice, it's Dan, but he was still a long way out," Hinkley said. "He was on the Telstra logo. Conditions were pretty hot. I wasn't confident that he'd kick that. But I knew if anyone could, Dan's a chance … It was pretty special."


Houston's goal extended Port's winning streak to 12 games and it wasn't the first triumph decided after the siren during that span, with the Power beating Sydney in round four when Aliir Aliir blocked Oliver Florent's after-the-siren game-winning attempt on the line.

"There's something going on at the moment for us," Hinkley said. "We're believers in hanging in. it seemed to work.

"It's just remarkable what's going on. I said to the boys in there 'there's some sort of story getting written at the moment for lots of reasons'.

"I'm a bit of a believer those reasons help you out when you need them. I thought we got some help today from above."


The Power bucked the trend and became only the second team to win after their bye against an opponent who played the previous week, joining the Western Bulldogs who beat Fremantle earlier in the day.

The overall record now stands at 2-10 for teams coming off the bye against teams who played the previous week and Hinkley was quick to point out they acknowledged that fact coming in.

"Everyone's got this issue with the bye and it seems a little bit real," Hinkley said. "We spoke about it a little bit. We were aware of it but nothing (other) than acknowledge it was fact and we were dealing with a bit against us in that area."

Hinkley also explained that Scott Lycett was withdrawn from the selected 22 with "two or three minutes to go" prior to bouncedown due to a knee issue, with 20-year-old Dante Visentini rushed into the side for his debut at short notice.

The Power coach revealed the raw Sandringham Dragons product was sitting in the coaches' box when he received the unexpected word that he was required to play, with his family rushing to the game by quarter-time to witness Visentini's debut.

Beaten Essendon coach Brad Scott didn't hide his disappointment at letting the victory slip after fighting back from 17 points down with seven minutes left to claim the lead from Jye Caldwell's goal with 1:23 remaining.

"We would've loved to have won obviously," Scott said. "We were in a winning position. If they're the best or second-best team in the comp, we're in pretty good shape."


Scott said he was content with the way his side tried to defend its lead in the final minute after Caldwell's goal.

"Clearly we're really disappointed not to come away with a win after getting ourselves in a winning position," he said. "At the end, I thought it's tough conditions, it was slippery, we executed most of what we try to set up in those situations.

"The insufficient intent free kick out of bounds (against Mason Redman), they got the ball, it was a contest, Peter Wright was trying to defend three. Structurally everything was OK. The effort was clearly there."

The result leaves Essendon's finals hopes precariously placed with an 8-7 record in eighth, ahead of a critical month of fixtures against fellow finals contenders, Adelaide, Geelong, Western Bulldogs and Sydney.


"There's eight games to go before that," Scott said when asked about finals. "We want to embrace the excitement of our supporters and all the possibilities that the rest of the home and away season presents, but that's just not the way professional coaches and athletes think.

"We want to win every game that we play. We wanted to win tonight. And where that places us at the end of the home and away season, that's where it places us.

"We'll just be really laser focused on where we need to get better, exploiting the things we're doing really well. Hopefully at the end of the season we make our fans proud. It's the end result that makes them proud.

"We're not in the business of hoping and wishing, we're in the business of getting to work and getting things done."