Hinkley’s Port hold on by two points over Saints

Roger Vaughan |

Port Adelaide have given their embattled coach Ken Hinkley a reprieve, beating St Kilda by two points in an error-filled clash at Marvel Stadium.

Port defender Aliir Aliir was mighty in the last quarter as they held on to win Sunday’s match 8.14 (62) to 8.12 (60).

The Power broke a three-game losing streak to stay in the top eight, while the Saints are mired in the bottom four with a 5-11 record.

“It’s been a tough week … they (his players) have stuck together,” Hinkley told Fox Sports, a week after Port fans booed him after the Brisbane Lions thrashed them by 79 points at Adelaide Oval.

“I don’t feel frustrated, I feel flat with the way we’ve been playing.”

Power midfielder Jason Horne-Francis was best afield, while Aliir and fellow key defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher repeatedly saved their team in the last quarter.

Jason Horne-Francis.
Jason Horne-Francis (L) had a team-high 28 disposals in the win over St Kilda. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

The Saints kicked the only two goals of the final term and Jack Higgins had a set shot late in the game.

But he inexplicably tried to snap his kick and did not make the distance.

Port went on a four-goal run in the first term, sparked by an outstanding centre clearance and running goal from Zak Butters, and they took a six-point break into quarter time.

A great kick from Jackson Mead and a solid shepherd from Darcy Byrne-Jones set up Horne-Francis, who kicked a superb goal on the run to level the scores at halftime after a tight second term.

The game became an error-filled scrap in the third quarter, with neither side able to kick a goal for 19 minutes despite plenty of chances.

After the Saints had kicked three behinds and Port had sprayed four, St Kilda star Jack Sinclair had the kickout.

Sinclair was high among the Saints’ best, but he inexplicably passed to Power second-gamer Logan Evans, who was mobbed by teammates after kicking the first goal of his AFL career.

Jeremy Finlayson then had a booming shot from 50m to give the Power a 13-point lead at the last change.

Rowan Marshall kicked three majors for the Saints, but key forward Max King struggled and only managed two behinds.

St Kilda made a late change, bringing in ruckman Tom Campbell for Seb Ross, while Brad Hill went off in the last term with a hip problem.