Zak Butters in hot water for bump amid eye-opening Ken Hinkley drama for Port in AFL

The hit from Butters came after intriguing scenes involving the Port coach.

Port Adelaide's Zak Butters has come under scrutiny over a late bump on Fremantle's Bailey Banfield, in Saturday night's rollercoaster three-point win for the Power. Jason Horne-Francis booted the match-winning goal as the fast-finishing hosts got home in a 9.12 (66) to 9.9 (63) AFL thriller at Adelaide Oval, that included a tense exchange between Port coach Ken Hinkley and forward Charlie Dixon at quarter-time.

Horne-Francis kicked the go-ahead goal with three minutes remaining as the Power (four wins, one loss) took second spot on the ladder. But the win may have come at a cost for the high-flying Power after a late-game hit by Butters on Freo's Banfield, as both battled to gather a loose ball.

Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon, coach Ken Hinkley and Zak Butters were all involved in drama during the AFL victory over Fremantle. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty
Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon, coach Ken Hinkley and Zak Butters were all involved in drama during the AFL victory over Fremantle. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty

With Banfield arriving at the footy first, Butters charged in and turned to the side as he flung himself at the footy, with his hip seeming to catch the jaw of the Dockers star. Banfield was not paid a free kick at the time but the incident will certainly be looked at due to the contact being above the shoulder of the opposition player.

The thing that could spare Butters from any sort of ban that would end his Brownlow Medal hopes is the suggestion he was making a genuine attempt to scoop up the ball when the contact was made. The incident left the AFL world divided but Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes described it as "perfect" technique from Butters that should not result in a suspension.

AFL fans react to Zak Butters bump on Bailey Banfield

"I think he has got hands on the football, that’s the perfect technique," Cornes said on’s The Round So Far. “Yes, it’s forceful. Yes, it’s aggressive. But he’s an aggressive player and the game was on the line. They’ll definitely look at it, but I would be really disappointed (if he got banned).

“We’ve seen some other ones … Matt Crouch had a similar one where they turn their body and actually win the ball and get their hands on the ball with great technique. Yes, they get the opposition high, but it’s a collision game and from time to time that is going to happen. I’d be disappointed if Zak Butters had a case to answer there.”

The late-game drama came in an absorbing final quarter that saw the Dockers lead by nine points with seven minutes left, only to be run down by a rampaging home side. That inflicted Fremantle with a second defeat of the season, with Port Adelaide jumping into second on the ladder after their fourth win in five games.


"You have just got to find a way sometimes and to our boys' credit, they actually found a way in the last quarter," Port coach Hinkley said. "That shows a fair bit of maturity to actually have to win it differently and you can't always get it on your terms."

Ken Hinkley caught in tense argument with Charlie Dixon

Hinkley was involved in his own moment of drama with veteran forward Dixon at quarter-time, with the pair captured in a heated conversation that raised eyebrows around the AFL. “Maybe a few problems for Port Adelaide,” Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall told the Fox Footy broadcast. “At quarter-time, Charlie and Kenny, I don’t (think) they’re seeing eye-to-eye.”

St Kilda legend Leigh Montagna added: “Whatever he’s saying, Charlie Dixon doesn’t seem too pleased. (He might be) saying ‘well, if you can’t win the contest, Charlie, you might need to be a decoy today’.

“I don’t think Charlie would appreciate that, so I reckon he’ll be keen to improve that one-on-one contest and not let Alex Pearce beat him as often as he did. Look, he’s fired up. That’s scary ... ‘Kenny’ might’ve just poked the bear.”

Dixon responded by kicking the next goal of the game but was largely anonymous for the rest of the contest. And Crows legend Mark Ricciuto said at halftime that he'd never witnessed Port's coach engaged in such a fiery incident with his own player during a game before.

Seen here, Charlie Dixon celebrating a goal for Port Adelaide against Fremantle.
Charlie Dixon celebrates a goal for Port Adelaide against Fremantle. Pic: Getty

“Well, this just doesn’t happen,” he told Fox Footy. “I have not seen it in Ken Hinkley’s reign, where these two have had a chat like this – or with anyone, to be quite honest.” Dixon accepted plenty of the blame after the game by admitting his "selfishness" had fired up the coach.

“He (Hinkley) just wanted me to do a little bit better, I guess,” Dixon said post-game. “I wasn’t too happy; I wanted a bit more of a chance. But that was my selfishness where I thought I could have a little bit more of a crack, where he needed me to do more of the team stuff.”

with AAP