Power surge to pip St Kilda in Cairns

·3-min read

Port Adelaide have continued their season rebuild with a tense one-point win against St Kilda in an ugly scrap at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns.

Power forward Robbie Gray's hurried shot on the run from beside the boundary line for a behind with 31 seconds left on the clock in Saturday's clash secured the 5.13 (43) to 4.18 (42) win in wet, slippery conditions.

Gray came to the rescue with two goals in the third quarter that propelled his team to the gritty win in a wildly fluctuating duel in which the scores were level three times during the final-term slog.

Port Adelaide booted five of the last six goals, and their ability to convert at crucial stages rewarded the Power with their second win of the season.

Power coach Ken Hinkley mused over the fine line from being a champ and chump in such a tight AFL competition after enduring two agonisingly close losses already this season before this breakthrough.

"It's a small-margins game, it always has been. We've lost two games by less than a kick and now we've won one," he said.

"When you're in tight games, if you keep turning up, you're going to get one to go your way and tonight we worked hard to get this one."

"It was a grinding game, clearly, for both sides and someone was going to be unlucky to lose.

"In the end, I was so pleased that our boys showed enough bite to keep going after the first quarter where St Kilda got a bit of an advantage."

St Kilda were left to rue missed opportunities, particularly several gettable set shots.

The wayward Saints ran up a horrendous 10 straight behinds from early in the second quarter until young forward Max King broke through for a goal early in the last quarter.

King, though, exemplified Saints' costly inaccuracy. He missed from 20m out directly in front from a free kick midway through the third quarter and then was offline with another, more crucial set shot from 30m on only a slight angle a minute after his last-quarter goal.

"We had our opportunities, there's no doubt about it. Sixty-one inside 50s, won the tackles, won the pressure count and when you have 21 clanger kicks and don't finish your work, that was the big thing for us," Saints coach Brett Ratten said

"We had our chances and, give Port their credits, at the back end of the game they won some critical contests when the game was in the balance."

St Kilda had enough of the ball to open up what should have been a sizeable lead by halftime which could have shut down the Power for the rest of the game.

After dominating the inside 50 count 24-8 in the first quarter, the Saints kicked 3.3 to set up a 19-point lead but then added 1.15 for the rest of the game.

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