Port powerhouse looms large for visiting Lions
LIONS beware. Port Adelaide forward Charlie Dixon will be back to his menacing best when the Power hosts Brisbane tomorrow, says teammate Sam Gray.
Dixon, the 202cm, 105kg Cairns product, was held goalless for the first time this year when the Power suffered a surprise loss to Essendon last week.
But the much-maligned 26-year-old remains on course for a career-best season and looms as the main danger facing the young Lions defence.
Dixon has booted 24 goals from 11 appearances this season. Barring injury he will top his best mark of 41 set in his final season as a Gold Coast Sun in 2015.
He's also already hauled in 67 marks - just three shy of his best tally last season - and, significantly, is the league's No.1 for contested grabs (30).
But if he's not taking possession, his attack on the ball is creating opportunities for teammates such as small forward Gray.
"Charlie's been great this year,” Gray said. "Just his presence up forward ... even his pressure and tackling inside 50.
"He attracts two or three guys at each contest. If us little fellas can get to the front of him (and get the loose ball), it helps us a lot.”
Dixon took 12 marks and booted 4.3 in a big win over the Lions in round six to make it 18 goals from his past four against them.
Lions defender Harris Andrews is a star in the making but will need support from the likes of Daniel McStay to curb the monster that is Dixon.
"On the weekend (against Essendon) he had a down game but I'm sure he'll bounce back this week and kick a bag,” Gray said.
"He's pretty-laid back - a typical country lad. He's always upbeat ... that's what we love about Charlie. He doesn't read too much into the media and bad things that are said.”
Gray has also been in awe of the man often mistaken for being his brother, Robbie Gray. They are not related.
"People calling us brothers, I don't mind it the first time, but the people who keep saying it gets a bit annoying,” 45-gamer Gray said.
Robbie Gray also slotted four goals in the Power's last game against the Lions.
"He's great to play with. He brings other players into the game probably better than anyone I've seen,” Sam Gray said.
The Lions head back to the Adelaide Oval having lost their only four previous appearances there.
But Gray said the Power would not underestimate the visitors, especially after their win over Fremantle.
"We watched a bit of it. They played four good quarters of footy,” he said. "We won't be taking them lightly. They've got some quality players.
"(Dayne) Beams, (Tom) Rockliff, (Dayne) Zorko and (Stefan) Martin in the ruck ... it's an elite midfield.”
Gray said the priority for his side was "tightening up the defence” after the Bombers' onslaught, and personally, kicking more accurately for goal after slotting 9.14 this season.
"Trying to figure out what's going wrong there,” he said. "If I can fix it up, make 3.1 instead of 1.3, that'll look a lot better.”