Port s match-winning goal for J-Mac
athan Blee of Port Adelaide is tackled by Tom Liberatore of Western Bulldogs during the AFL European Challenge game between Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs at The Oval. Pic: Getty Images

It was only an exhibition match but Port Adelaide's Brad Ebert could not stop his raw emotions from surfacing at The Oval.

Understandably so, following a difficult couple of months since the death of his best mate John McCarthy on an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas.

After kicking the winning goal against the Western Bulldogs in Port's thrilling 14.4 (88) to 13.9 (87) win from 50m out on the boundary line with 40 seconds remaining, Ebert kissed the black tape on his arm and looked to the skies to salute his former teammate.

"There are a lot of emotions going through the last few months and obviously Dani, John's girl-friend, was here tonight and over the last year we have got on really well," Ebert said.

"He was my best mate and so it was great to be able to kick that goal and even though it was only an exhibition match, it was really nice to be able to do that. I had to give it a bit, just give him a salute."

The passing of McCarthy, who also played for Collingwood, had pained ex-West Coast midfielder Ebert after the pair formed a strong bond since arriving at Alberton Oval from different clubs 12 months ago.

"We will always have J-Mac's memory with us," Ebert said.

"We will be able to move on and while it still will hurt for a long time, we will be able to use that on the footy field."

The victory was a tonic for coach Ken Hinkley in his first game at the helm of the Power.

Hinkley, who was appointed to the top job last month, was delighted as Port fought back from six goals down in the third quarter.

They kicked nine goals in a row before the Dogs reclaimed the lead, then Ebert struck the final blow.

"I said to the players beforehand you always want to win, it does not matter if it is an exhibition match or anything for us," Hinkley said.

"We are a club that needs to learn to win a bit. I am not sure whether we knew what we were doing, we have been together for three seconds, but the coaching staff told me there was some talent here to work with and it is nice to see that."

Former Essendon forward Angus Monfries had an impact in his first outing with three goals.

"He was my best mate … I had to give it a bit, just give him a salute."

" *Brad Ebert *

Australian Associated Press

The West Australian

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