Butters dominates as Port Adelaide pip Melbourne

·2-min read
Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS

A midfield masterclass from Zak Butters has inspired Port Adelaide to a four-point victory over Melbourne in an AFL thriller.

Butters gathered 41 disposals, kicked two goals and had a dozen score involvements in the Power's stirring 11.14 (80) to 11.10 (76) triumph.

The dynamic 22-year-old's Friday night feats were instrumental in Port's seventh win in a row that gives them second spot on the ladder from Melbourne ahead of weekend games.

Butters also had nine clearances and eight inside 50s as Melbourne slipped to their third loss of the year on a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval.

"I am not sure there's too many better games you will see from a little fella," Port coach Ken Hinkley said of the 181cm tall Butters.

"(He's) a tough, brave, little prick who takes big moments and turns them into something special."

Butters' midfield mate Rozee (31 touches, 11 inside 50s), Dan Houston (33 disposals) and Willem Drew (22, 10 tackles) were busy while young forward Ollie Lord and Jeremy Finlyason slotted two goals each.

Melbourne backman Steven May was superb with his 23 disposals, including 15 rebounds from his defensive 50m zone.

Demon on-baller Clayton Oliver (28 possessions), forward Bayley Fritsch (two goals) and Tom McDonald (two goals) were prominent, while Lachie Hunter gathered 24 disposals but was reported for a high bump on Port's Connor Rozee.

Port led 3.2 to 1.2 at quarter-time and stretched their break to a game-high 25 points midway through the second term.

But two timely strikes from Melbourne's Fritsch reduced the margin to 14 points at halftime and, after an early Butters goal in the third term, the Demons rallied.

As Port's ex-captain Travis Boak was substituted - the 336-gamer was crunched in ribs in term two - the visitors piled on seven of the next eight goals.

Melbourne skipped 17 points up but a goal after the siren from the brilliant Butters reduced the margin to 11 points at the last change.

The only Demon downer in their 7.2 to 3.1 third quarter was the report of Hunter, whose right hip collected a sliding Rozee in the head on the outer wing.

In a frenetic finale, Port's Finlayson goaled after being awarded a free kick when struck high by Jacob van van Rooyen some 60 metres behind play.

And fourth-gamer Lord returned Port the lead with a close-range checkside before Melbourne's McDonald soon regained it for his team with a cool set shot.

But with four minutes to go, the Power's Rozee snapped what proved the match-winning goal.

"Yep, we're incredibly disappointed to lose a game of footy," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

"But it's what you do about it and ... out of this, we will grow, there's no question about that."