The sixth-placed Power are a win shy of fourth place after their 14.14 (98) to 10.11 (71) Sunday twilight triumph at Adelaide Oval.
Collingwood’s finals prospects are officially over, an insurmountable 10 premiership points shy of eighth spot with two games remaining.
But just as the Power welcomed back the ever-influential Chad Wingard from an ankle injury, vice-captain Ollie Wines may face scrutiny from the match review panel for a high bump on Tom Langdon.
In an error-riddled opening quarter, Wines’ upper arm hit the head of Langdon – who fortunately for the Power midfielder wasn’t hurt.
Wines was prominent in Port’s valuable win, collecting 29 disposals and kicking a goal while teammates Robbie Gray (two goals), Wingard (32 disposals), Brad Ebert (28 possessions) and Jasper Pittard (26 disposals) were important.
“It’s a win we needed to have in a competition that is so tight,” Port coach Ken Hinkley said.
“It wasn’t our most convincing, but I’m pretty pleased.”
Collingwood’s Adam Treloar and Taylor Adams were their side’s chief ball-winners, both with 31 touches. Remodelled forward Ben Reid kicked four goals, while Steele Sidebottom (27 disposals) and Jack Crisp (27 possessions) were lively.
“We were well beaten in the flow of play,” Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said.
“But they kept plugging away. They are definitely not giving up, the want is strong.”
Port, despite laying just two tackles in the first quarter, shaded the visitors early and held a 22-point halftime lead in a scrappy affair.
And when the brilliant Gray slotted his second goal midway through the third quarter, the Power moved 34 points clear and were coasting.
But the plucky Pies launched an unheralded fightback, booting four goals in a seven-minute spree to sneak to within eight points.
Port responded to the crisis, scoring four of the next six goals to bank a 12th win of the season – the historical benchmark for reaching the finals.
But the Power, with games against Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast to come, are only one win ahead of a chasing pack of three clubs.
Hinkley isn’t sure if playing the Bulldogs in Ballarat is a boon for his club, as the Victorian city hosts its first AFL game on Saturday.
While a Bulldogs home game, the venue is neutral as neither side has played there.
Asked if it was a bonus to meet the Dogs there rather than their Melbourne home ground, Etihad Stadium, Hinkley replied: “Is it? I’m not too sure.”
“I love Ballarat and have been there a couple of times, it gets pretty cold up there sometimes,” he said.
Hinkley’s Port are four premiership points ahead of the Bulldogs on the ladder entering the Ballarat fixture.
“Wherever we play them, it’s not going to be the issue,” he said.
“It’s how we compete with them, and they are a pretty fierce group when they’re up and about. They have been playing some strong footy again.
“Both teams are desperate to play a part in the finals and that is going to make it a pretty willing game, I would have thought.”
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