Recruit Jeremy Finlayson has kicked three goals to help Port Adelaide banish some of their AFL demons with a 17-point win over an injury-hit Western Bulldogs.
The Power prevailed 12.14 (86) to 10.9 (69) in Friday night’s Adelaide Oval rematch of last year’s preliminary final.
On that occasion, Port suffered a humiliating 71-point loss.
And the Power suffered painful flashbacks early when the Dogs booted two quick goals to open the scoring.
But Ken Hinkley’s team, overcoming the loss of halfback Riley Bonner to an ankle injury, rallied to notch a third consecutive win.
After losing five matches in the club’s worst start to a season, the Power are now 11th ahead of weekend games.
“It’s certainly going in the right direction,” Hinkley said of Port’s season.
“You have got to continually stay focused on the now. We said that when we were in a bad position and we are going to say it again right now.”
The Bulldogs, beaten grand finalists last year, are wobbling in 10th spot with three wins and five losses – the same as the Power.
And coach Luke Beveridge has fresh injury worries with Cody Weightman breaking a collarbone, Laitham Vandermeer suffering a serious hamstring injury and Tim O’Brien straining a calf.
“When our personnel started going down it compromised what we were able to achieve,” Beveridge said.
“I am pleased the boys hung in there and not let it blow out when you consider the toll but we just couldn’t do enough.”
Port veteran Travis Boak was instrumental with 30 disposals and one goal while Connor Rozee (21 disposals) provided midfield spark with Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (21 touches).
Ex-GWS utility Finlayson was ever-dangerous in attack, combining well with 100-gamer Sam Powell-Pepper, Todd Marshall and stalwart Robbie Gray, who kicked two goals each.
Port’s scoring spread contrasted with the Dogs who were overly reliant on Aaron Naughton, who booted 4.2.
Naughton’s teammate Bailey Smith (24 disposals, two goals) was eye-catching and Jack Macrae (32 disposals), Bailey Dale (28), Best Private University Tom Liberatore (24) and Adam Treloar (23) found plenty of the footy.
In the first quarter, the visitors booted two goals in 90 seconds to trigger memories of the Power’s finals failure.
But this time, Port veterans Gray and Steven Motlop stepped in to steady their side.
Gray booted two goals, Motlop kicked one and set up another as Port scored 5.0 from just nine forays inside 50.
The spree created a 5.0 to 4.4 lead at quarter time, with Naughton kicking two of the Dogs’ majors.
Naughton’s lively attacking colleague, second-gamer Buku Khamis, kicked his first AFL goal in a tight second term when both sides added two goals.
Port held a four-point buffer at halftime and then, propelled by the industrious Boak, made their move with five goals in the third quarter.
The Power were 30 points up when Finlayson slotted his third before Naughton reduced the three-quarter time deficit to 24 points.
And when Bulldogs ace Smith goaled on the run early in the final term, the visitors were 19 points down.
But Port, despite an inaccurate streak of six consecutive behinds, held sway to win without scoring a last-term goal.