Prized recruit Charlie Dixon led an early blitz as Port Adelaide hammered Essendon by 61 points in a Friday night AFL fizzer.
Port banked a second win of the season, 17.10 (112) to 7.9 (51), at Adelaide Oval.
Dixon was instrumental in a fierce Port start, the home side scoring nine of the first 10 goals of a lopsided encounter.
Dixon and Aaron Young booted three goals each while Robbie Gray’s Brownlow medal odds will shorten after 30 disposals, two goals and a dozen clearances.
Halfbacks Matthew Broadbent (27 disposals) and Jasper Pittard (29 touches) and winger Jared Polec (23 possessions) were damaging but Port lost Paul Stewart to an ankle injury – the club stalwart was in his comeback match after falling from selection favour last year.
Essendon’s main attack man Joe Daniher booted two goals – his side’s initial two. But by the time of his second, 10 minutes into the second quarter, they already trailed by eight goals.
After the Bombers began the match with three minutes of missed opportunities, the Power went on a scoring spree: five goals in 14 minutes.
Dixon, lured from the Gold Coast, fed the first to his captain Travis Boak and kicked the second and fourth goals as Port posted 7.4 to 1.4 in the opening quarter.
Before 44,601 home spectators, Port led 65-17 midway through the second quarter and the Bombers were effectively shot.
Essendon’s old hands – James Kelly (29 possessions), David Zaharakis (27 disposals) and Adam Cooney (26 possessions) – battled gamely.
But the Bombers couldn’t pierce Port’s defence, scoring just one point in a dour third quarter before adding three consolation goals late in the final term.
Port coach Ken Hinkley said the victory was far from perfect, but crucial after last week’s heavy loss to Adelaide.
“We played pretty solid football for most part of the match,” he said.
“We had rightly copped a fair bit … we had to recover some belief in the way we play.
Essendon coach John Worsfold said his side was outclassed but praised the effort of his players.
“They are not giving up in terms of talk and attitude on the field,” he said.