Hawthorn beat Port to keep top AFL spot

Dynamic duo Cyril Rioli and Jack Gunston kicked three goals each as Hawthorn trumped Port Adelaide by 22 points on Thursday night to retain their grip on top spot of the AFL ladder.

The Hawks won 15.11 (101) to 12.7 (79) at Adelaide Oval as the Power’s finals’ hopes faded further – they could slide three wins behind the top eight by the end of the round.

Rioli made a triumphant return after missing Hawthorn’s last match following the death of a grandfather, booting three majors and having a hand in another for the reigning premiers.

The Hawks held a slender six-point lead at halftime but flexed their collective muscles in the third term, kicking five goals to Port’s two to create a match-defining 30-point advantage at the last change.

Port slipped 36 points down 17 minutes into the last quarter before belatedly rallying, kicking three late goals to sneak within 16 points before Hawk Brad Hill iced the win with a goal after the final siren.

Hawthorn’s battle-hardened brigade of Luke Hodge (29 disposals), Sam Mitchell (28 possessions) and Jordan Lewis (25 touches) were all influential as they overwhelmed the Power before 43,025 spectators.

Rioli headlined an ever-dangerous Hawthorn attack which featured Gunston, Luke Breust (two goals) and Paul Puopolo (two goals), while ruckman Jonathon Ceglar also kicked two.

Port, now with seven wins and eight losses, lost Brad Ebert to concussion when his head crashed into the ground after taking a ripping first-quarter mark while recruit Charlie Dixon was hobbled by a leg injury in the second half.

Port were overly reliant on Robbie Gray, who was a standout with two goals and 29 disposals, Chad Wingard slotted three majors and midfielder Matthew Broadbent gathered 28 possessions.

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