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Top-four Power face crucial Showdown

Football

Coach Ken Hinkley could barely see the other side of the ground in the last quarter of Port Adelaide’s AFL win over the Western Bulldogs. The Power’s fate over the last month of the regular season is equally unclear.

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After kicking clear of the Bulldogs in Ballarat’s brutal conditions on Sunday, the Power have returned to the top four.

But they have one of the toughest runs home among the finalists, starting with an epic Showdown next Saturday against Adelaide.

If Port win, they put the Crows out of finals contention and that is incentive enough in one of the AFL’s fiercest rivalries.

But the Power also can afford no slip-ups, given they end the regular season with West Coast at home, Collingwood at the MCG and Essendon at Adelaide Oval.

“It is just big from our point of view, from a football season point of view and clearly Adelaide is trying to hang on, keep their season going,” Hinkley said.

“It will be on – Showdowns always are.

“We have as tough a run home, as theirs is.

“If we make it we will be ready, we will deserve it and be in good form going there.”

While Hinkley is happy to play in Ballarat again – Port now have the beaten the Bulldogs there twice – the weather made for a rugged afternoon.

It was a brutal Ballarat winter’s day, with pre-game hail, persistent rain and a temperature of just four degrees at the opening bounce.

“It was fantastic to be up here and play but obviously the weather could have helped us a little bit more – for both sides,” Hinkley said.

‘‘I couldn’t see the game in the last quarter.

‘‘When I was in the box it was pretty dark and I was watching it on the monitor the best I could.

‘‘The players were fine, it was more from where we were sitting.’’

The AFL brought in extra lighting, but the weather and the later start time of 3.20pm made for trying conditions.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said he would prefer their Ballarat games to be earlier in the season and starting at 1.10pm.

“But ultimately Victoria’s weather is pretty fickle – Australia’s weather is pretty fickle,” Beveridge said.

“If we turned up to play yesterday it would’ve been pretty reasonable conditions. So it’s pot luck.”

– AAP

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