Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has praised matchwinner Zak Butters and star veteran Travis Boak after the ten-point win over Hawthorn.
It was a sign of the fine balance of youth and experience that Port Adelaide have found in their AFL premiership pursuit this season.
Old heads Boak, Tom Rockliff and Ollie Wines did most of the heavy lifting, while young gun Butters provided the spark.
The result was a gritty ten-point win over Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on Saturday that saw the Power maintain top spot on the ladder for another week.
Butters inspired his side with a tackle on Changkuoth Jiath to set up a second-quarter goal and saved one with a smother on Hawks star Chad Wingard in the third term.
The 19-year-old was thrown into the midfield when the game was on the line and kicked the match-winning goal when he sliced through a forward-50 stoppage with two minutes left to play.
“He’s got that potential to bring some real energy to the team,” Power coach Ken Hinkley said.
“He’s a young player and usually the young players have got that real freedom.
“Zak has got that great composure as well and he knows in those moments he can step up.
“His goal off that stoppage is a pretty special moment for Zak, but he’s a young player learning and he’s still got lots to learn.
“But we’re really glad that he’s with our footy club.”
Boak is enjoying a career-best year and starred with 34 disposals – 11 in the final term – and nine clearances against Hawthorn.
The 32-year-old veteran is firmly in Brownlow Medal contention.
“He’s always had a high standard,” Hinkley said.
“He’s one of those players who brings more often than not a pretty consistent level to his game.
“His form’s been pretty consistent right through the season.”
Port Adelaide will start favourites when they host injury-hit Sydney at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
It is the second of four straight matches against teams currently sitting outside the top eight that could position Hinkley’s men perfectly for a shot at the premiership.