Port Adelaide have survived a mighty fright from lowly Essendon to bank a 16-point win and creep within touching distance of the AFL's top eight.
The Power, with Charlie Dixon kicking two goals in his first AFL game this year, triumphed 9.12 (66) to 6.14 (50) at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
After five-straight losses to start their season, the Power are now in 11th spot with five victories and six losses - just a win outside the eight.
"To get to this stage of the year after our start, we're pretty proud of the way we have managed to get back into the competition," Port coach Ken Hinkley said.
"At least we give ourselves a chance for the second half of the season."
The Bombers, in contrast, are 16th with just two wins, with their finals hopes shot entering their mid-season bye.
Port cruised to a 31-point halftime lead - 8.4 to 2.9 - against the wayward Bombers.
Essendon produced a spirited fightback in the third quarter with four consecutive goals to sneak within eight points.
But the Power, after leading by 14 points at the last change, held sway in a final quarter when neither side could muster a goal.
Port's Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines (29 disposals, six inside 50s), Karl Amon (25 touches) and Zak Butters (24 possessions, one goal) were instrumental in repelling the Bombers' challenge.
And Power spearhead Dixon made a successful AFL comeback from ankle surgery, ending as the only multiple goalkicker in a game marred by second-half rain.
Essendon's Darcy Parish was the leading ball-winner in the match, with his 39 disposals featuring 18 contested possessions and nine score involvements.
Parish's midfield mate Zac Merrett (26 touches, seven tackles) was also busy, as were Nick Martin (25 disposals, seven inside 50s) and captain Dyson Heppell (24 possessions).
Port kicked four goals to none in the first quarter and, after adding another three unanswered majors in the second, held a commanding 44-8 lead.
Essendon scored eight behinds before ruckman Andrew Phillips kicked his side's opening goal in the 12th minute of the second term.
The Bombers were 31 points down at halftime but added four consecutive goals in the third quarter, the last of which - from Sam Durham - left them just eight points in arrears.
The Bombers trailed by 14 at three-quarter time and couldn't make headway in a goal-less slog of a last term.
"We didn't quite convert our opportunities ... scoring shots were pretty similar at halftime," Essendon coach Ben Rutten said.
"There was a fair bit of optimism at halftime based on the way we were competing and the way the game was being played, it was just our inability to make the most of opportunities."
Australian Associated Press
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