Essendon have stunned Port Adelaide, handing the premiership contenders back-to-back losses for the first time this season in a two point-thriller at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
Essendon held the lead at every change and never let the Power hit the front to win 8.14 (62) to 7.18 (60).
David Zaharakis was the standout for the Bombers with 30 disposals and seven tackles while David Myers, Jason Winderlich and Zach Merrett were also prominent.
Robbie Gray (30 touches and one goal), Hamish Hartlett and Matt White were amongst the best for the Power.
Essendon hit the front early when Jake Carlisle capitalised on an errant handball from Port defender Tom Jonas.
Tempers flared shortly afterwards with Gray and Paul Chapman coming to blows in an incident that will draw attention from the match review panel.
The Power finally hit the scoreboard after 19 minutes through Jay Schulz.
The visitors held a six-point lead at the first break though after Joe Daniher and Jackson Merrett combined for a clever goal.
Myers kept the momentum rolling for Essendon in the second stanza after goaling off of one step with a powerful kick, but Schulz hit back immediately for the hosts.
Schulz’s second goal would be the Power’s only major score for the quarter as the Bombers kicked the next three through Brendon Goddard, Patrick Ambrose and Paddy Ryder to push their lead out to 24 points at half-time.
Port started the third term nicely when White dashed inside 50 and unloaded with a goal, but were pegged back after Carlisle booted his second of the game.
The minor scores continued to mount for either side until Gray pounced on a loose ball to goal for the Power to cut the deficit to 16 points at the final change.
It took Port just 44 seconds into the fourth term to signal the start of a comeback when Schulz kicked his third goal.
A captain’s goal from Travis Boak had the 46,786 strong-crowd roaring, but Dyson Heppell silenced the home faithful when he intercepted a sloppy kick in Port’s defensive 50 and goaled against the run of play.
Kane Mitchell set up a thrilling final few moments when he scored from inside the goal square, but the Bombers held on for a memorable victory.
Essendon coach Mark Thompson was thrilled to see the Bombers winning a close encounter after witnessing his side suffer a number of narrow defeats this season.
“They (players) said to me after the game it was clearest and most communicated game that they’ve played in early which is a great thing because it means they know what they’re doing,” he said.
“It looked professional, it looked measured and it was good to watch – I enjoyed it.
“It was clearly our best performance (this season) we’re happy to take the points out of Adelaide anytime especially against Port Adelaide because they are a good side.”
Power coach Ken Hinkley rued his side’s lack of poise during the game which he credited Essendon’s intense pressure for influencing.
“Our lack of composure at times was pretty alarming for us and our willingness to continually do the right thing,” he said.
“Games are made up of little moments, little seconds, little minutes and we just didn’t work in the right way often enough during that game and we came up short just by a little bit.
“Essendon really tackled us hard tonight and they were really good in tight early when they needed to be.”