Port down Dogs to snare top-four spot

Port Adelaide have clawed their way back into the AFL's top four, prevailing over the Western Bulldogs by 44 points in a wet-weather slugfest in Ballarat.

Sunday afternoon's 11.12 (78) to 5.4 (34) victory at a bitterly cold Mars Stadium snaps a two-game losing streak and leaves the Power two points clear of fifth-placed GWS.

Charlie Dixon starred for Port with five goals while Jared Polec, Chad Wingard and Brad Ebert led the way in the midfield.

"He's been a bit sore through the week and got through and probably played his best game," Port coach Ken Hinkley said of the 200cm Dixon.

"He's had a couple of really good games in the back half (of the season) but I'd say that's nearly his best game, in those conditions for a big man."

The 14th-placed Bulldogs managed just one goal for the second half and went scoreless in the final term on the way to a fourth straight loss.

Perhaps their only good news is they appeared to escape unscathed after a shocking run of injuries.

"There's probably 8-10, maybe even a dozen boys who are still trying to find their way in the game and establish themselves as AFL footballers," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.

"I'm pretty proud that they keep fronting up and the desire's there to win but then we're just getting found out by a little bit of experience."

A pre-game flurry of hail, persistent rain and a temperature of four degrees at the opening bounce made for a scrappy contest with goals at a premium.

The Dogs had the breeze in their favour early and made a promising start, restricting Port to a two-point lead at quarter-time.

Port dominated the second term as conditions briefly cleared - they had 20 inside 50s to the Bulldogs' five - but used the ball poorly and failed to capitalise on their supply.

The visitors led by four points at halftime but were quick out of the blocks in the third term through Dixon, who towelled up Bulldogs opponent Marcus Adams.

Gun midfielder Jackson Macrae (36 disposals, 12 clearances) continued to spur the Bulldogs on but Port's well-drilled backline was letting nothing through and the floodgates opened for the visitors with seven goals after halftime.

Brilliant utility Robbie Gray was quiet by his lofty standards with 19 touches and a goal, while Paddy Ryder and Tom Jonas made solid returns from injury.

Macrae, Jackson Trengove (28 hitouts, 10 clearances) and returning skipper Marcus Bontempelli were the standouts for the Bulldogs.

The Power face a tough run home with next week's Showdown followed by games against second-placed West Coast, third-placed Collingwood and a resurgent Essendon.