GIPPSLAND Power was outclassed by the Eastern Ranges in TAC Cup football at the weekend.
The Ranges, after welcoming back seven of its national championship-winning Vic Metro players, won at Morwell 13.18 (96) to 6.6 (42).
The Power was on the back foot from the opening bounce and wasn't able to match the visitors.
The Ranges played more disciplined and direct team football than the Chargers and definitely made the Power look second rate.
In the opening minutes of the match, the Ranges set the tempo for the match by punishing Power mistakes with slick rebound football that gave them two easy goals. It took some more effective ball use by Will Stephenson to find Kyle Reid and he kicked truly.
Instead of learning from this, the Power again allowed the Ranges to control their use of the ball on the rebound and had loose players ready to set up two more “gift” goals.
To add insult to injury, the Power wasted possible scoring opportunities before CJ Jiath kicked his first goal for the side after missing his nine previous shots this season.
The margin at the first change was 15 points, but this really flattered the Power considering how little pressure it applied to the Ranges once they began to generate attacking football.
This looked worse early in the second quarter as the Ranges kicked the first two goals with almost no opposition form the Power. They were dominating the clearances from stoppages due to the dominance of their ruckmen and the skill and pace they used to get the ball away and then set up scoring opportunities.
In direct contrast the Power had no system going and it took a clever snap by Austin Hodge to get a vital goal.
To further insult to the Power, the Ranges kicked another stunning goal from the resultant centre bounce and it seemed to inspire Will Leslie to kick a stunning, running goal from the next centre bounce.
It didn’t take the Ranges long to re-establish control of the momentum as they slammed on two more majors with consummate ease on the rebound.
By the end of the term, they led by 36 points but had hardly raised a sweat as the Power provided them with so many easy opportunities due to poor skill and or decision making.
The third term was not pretty footy as both sides wasted scoring opportunities despite working so hard to set them up.
Late in the quarter, the Ranges restored the status quo by clinically exploiting unnecessary Power turnovers and playing incisive rebound football. They extended their lead to 57 points by the end of the term and had kept the Power goal-less in the process.
Considering how well the Ranges had followed their game plan, the Power looked to be facing a severe mental challenge in the last quarter.
Importantly, it upped the work rate and began to be more effective with their ball skills and decision making. Power minimised unnecessary turnovers and began to set up better scoring opportunities.
One of these more effective passages of play allowed Sean Masterson to kick the opening goal of the quarter and seemed to give the side vital self-belief.
Youngster, Xavier Duursma initiated good ball use with Tom Murray and Kim Drew and then cleverly finished it off with an excellent goal.
The Ranges regained the initiative in the last few minutes with another of their running goals and, by the end of the match, had recorded a 54-point victory. It was a sound win that could have been much bigger but for some hard work by the Power in the latter part of the match.
On a day when the Power really struggled to get its game going, Xavier Duursma defied his slight build to put himself in the tightest contests and win vital possessions.
Defender Will Leslie was under intense pressure because of the quality of his opponents as well as the ease with which the Ranges were able to move the ball into attack. Not only did he withstand this pressure, but he was able to win the ball and set up attacking play himself with his pace and long kicking.
Midfielder Kim Drew was often at the bottom of the toughest packs attempting to win contested possessions or to prevent opponents from getting their hands on the ball.
Diminutive on-baller Callan McKeon was in the thick of the action as well as using his pace to generate positive passages of running play.
Fellow on-baller Nick Hogan has also had much of his season disrupted by hamstring injury, and he too stepped up to play a vital role in winning tough possessions and ensuring that they were used effectively. He was better as the game progressed and was a critical factor in the team's ability to minimise the Ranges' winning margin.
The Power will have the bye this weekend before taking on arch rivals the Dandenong Stingrays at Frankston on July 29.