Goals by inspirational young gun Karl Amon helped Port Adelaide land a knockout blow in their 37-point AFL win over the Gold Coast on Saturday night at a wet Metricon Stadium.
However, punches thrown in a halftime melee proved the post-match talking point, with Suns forward Tom Lynch and Port’s Jasper Pittard expected to come under scrutiny.
Although out of finals contention, the Power ran out 12.16 (88) to 7.9 (51) winners.
Amon – who overcome a childhood disease that stunted his leg growth – defied the wet to kick three telling goals to help turn a four-point first-term lead into a 30-point blowout by the final break.
But teammate Pittard and Gold Coast’s Lynch might be in trouble after featuring in a heated all-in at the main break.
Several scuffles broke out after the Suns’ Brandon Matera’s heavy tackle on Angus Monfries spilled over the boundary sideline.
Lynch appeared to strike Cam O’Shea in the ensuing trouble before Pittard chimed in, launching what seemed to be several upper cuts on the Gold Coast forward as players wrestled on the ground.
In the subsequent scuffle, Lynch had his guernsey pulled off by angry opponents and thrown into the crowd.
However, nothing could distract Port (11-10 record) from notching their fifth win in six games in an otherwise disappointing season for the early flag fancies.
The injury-ravaged Suns (4-16) would have backed themselves against Port after two wins and a draw in their past four games.
However, the Suns could not lift in their final home game of the season.
Up by four points at the first interval, Port kicked out to a 6.9 (45) to 4.3 (27) halftime break after Amon snapped two almost identical goals from the same tight angle for the visitors.
The Suns cut the deficit early in the third term to six points after Port target Charlie Dixon kicked his third goal.
However, Amon – who only had two career goals before he arrived on the tourist strip – kicked his third soon after and Port did not look back in front of 9343 sodden fans.
The only good news for Gold Coast on Saturday was acting captain Michael Rischitelli and Jesse Lonergan re-signing for another two seasons.
However, the future of in-demand forward Dixon – who returned from another ankle injury on Saturday – remains up in the air after being linked with Port and Fremantle.
Recalled Suns defender Clay Cameron came off in the third term with severe concussion.
“The boys were saying Lynchy was getting a bit grumpy … but I think there was the right spirit in the contest – that’s what happens when you play contested football,” Port coach Ken Hinkley said of the melee.
Hinkley did not want to wonder what might have been despite his side’s resurgent season finish after their top-eight hopes were dashed.
“If we had played that style of play for most of the year, we might have found ourselves in a different position,” he said.
“The most pleasing part is we have played the way Port Adelaide should have played.
“It’s hard to remain alive in the mind when the season is gone but they have been able to do that.”
Hinkley said Amon’s emergence was an “upside” to their disappointing season.