Charlie Dixon arrived at Port Adelaide to questions about his commitment to being an AFL player.
On Saturday, the imposing forward took another step towards proving his doubters wrong.
Dixon’s five goals, three of which came in a game-defining second quarter, were pivotal in Port’s 45-point win over Melbourne in Alice Springs.
The 202cm star’s aerial prowess was eye-catching in the Power’s 18.13 (121) to 10.16 (76) win in front of 5146 fans at Traeger Park.
But it was the follow-up work by Dixon, who was suspended by Gold Coast for drinking the night before a game, that pleased Port coach Ken Hinkley the most.
“When Charlie came to our club, I said I know our boys will get very, very quickly in love with (him) the way he works for their team,” Hinkley said.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with Charlie Dixon. He’s delivered today some goals but what he delivers every week is a fair-dinkum contest and that’s what we love.”
For Hinkley, Dixon’s industrious performance was just the sort needed for 10th-placed Port to become a contender again.
Port’s makeshift ruck brigade was monstered by dominant Melbourne big man Max Gawn (48 hitouts, two goals) but the Power’s hard-working midfield managed to break even at the stoppages and move the ball with precision.
“We haven’t got an enormous amount of top-end talent, I don’t think, on display most weeks. We’re just pretty solid,” Hinkley said.
“If we bring that same sort of level of intensity and effort, we’ll become a bit more consistent.”
Melbourne coach Paul Roos was left to rue a wasteful performance from his young side, who showed moments of individual brilliance but paid the price for lapses.
Forward spearhead Jesse Hogan booted three goals but received little help as the Demons continued to turn the ball over and star Jack Viney was tagged out of the game by Brad Ebert.
“We were terrible defensively,” Roos said.
“It’s probably been a trend in our losing games. Young players get energised by scoring and then they forget about other aspects of the game.”
Melbourne are likely to bring experienced faces into their side to face Hawthorn, with Roos admitting he should have done so earlier.
Backman Colin Garland will have an injured cheekbone assessed after copping an accidental hit to the face late in the game.