GIPPSLAND Power thumped the Sandringham Dragons by 109 points in TAC Cup football on Sunday in Morwell.
The Power won 20.18 (138) to 4.5 (29).
In the opening minutes of the first term, the Power who took the initiative with precise ball use by Tye Hourigan set-up Boadie Motton to kick truly.
Some typically strong forward pressure by Hodge, Fraser Phillips and Sam Flanders then allowed Josh Smit to kick another. In contrast, the Dragons were struggling to kick straight due to fine defensive pressure by the Power and had missed three chances before kicking their opening goal.
Once again, Hodge was in the thick of the action and converted a hard-won free kick before the Power wasted several “gettable” opportunities with poor finishing.
Neocleous and Phillips cleverly combined to allow Fraser to kick a “blinder” from deep in the pocket and then more excellent forward pressure by Fraser and Motton saw Noah Gown kick the sides’ fifth goal for the term. Not to be outdone, the defenders set up a goal for Smith with some excellent ball use.
By the end of the first quarter, the Power led by 31 points as a result of stout defence and highly effective use of their inside fifty entries.
These factors were evident early in the second term as Xavier Duursma, Hodge, Bailey Beck and Flanders combined to set up Neocleous for a stunning goal. Their excellent ball use was matched by the Baileys, Beck and Patterson, who created the chance to kick a second off the resultant pack.
Instead of building on this effective finishing, the Power missed three “sitters” before gifting the Dragons with a goal after some sloppy ball use.
When the team needed a hint of what to do, Hodge and smith combined to allow Hodge to kick a stunner from the pocket. It was now Flanders’ turn, and he kicked a long goal from the resultant centre bounce.
Once again the Power wasted further chances to kick goals and then added insult to injury by gifting the Dragons with another after more awful ball use.
By the long break, the Power led by 48 points but, few would have believed that this lead was adequate considering the number of chances it had wasted. Four goals from 19 inside 50 entries typified the problem and coach Leigh Brown used the break to highlight the need to get back to the effectiveness typified by their first quarter efforts.
Brown wasn’t finished with this “discussion” and, then added further spice to his address, by referring to the “elite standards” scenario.
His “messages” had obviously hit home as Hodge and Gown made the right decisions to allow Riley Baldi to kick truly from the pocket and then the intense forward pressure resulted in a clever snap by Flanders.
Once again, more excellent pressure by Motton and Flanders set up Hodge; and he made a difficult shot look easy. As if inspired, the ball came efficiently from defence via Matt McGannon and Duursma and this time it was Beck who finished it off truly.
The Power were well and truly on a superb roll and Mitch Benveltzen and Gown created another fine goal for Flanders.
After kicking some truly stunning goals it would have been easy for Power supporters to be content, however Harvey Neocleous had other ideas and, kicked what could become the goal of the season from deep in the pocket with not much daylight visible between the posts.
It took the umpires to break the Power’s brilliant run of goals with an “iffy” free kick but it went into overdrive from deep in defence and Patterson finished it off with style and class.
By the end of the term the Power led by 86 points but, far more importantly, had got back to the sort of team-oriented football that was so evident in the first quarter. It had kicked seven goals from 15 forward 50 entries and had maximised the return for the hard work in contests all over the ground.
Early in the final term Hodgey did it again with another near-impossible snap from an acute angle and it looked as if the Dragons were in for a real thrashing. However, this was far from the truth as both sides struggled to get the ball into attack for the next fifteen minutes.
The midfield units enjoyed their time in the lime light and it took some more direct ball use by Tyrone Hayes, Hodge and Flanders to create an opportunity for McGannon to kick a rare goal.
Instead of building on this more productive approach, the Power then squandered several “gettable” chances before Motton, Phillips and Zac Skinner used the ball cleverly to allow Flanders to kick his fourth for the match.
By the final siren the margin was 109 points and it could have been even higher with a little more care and purpose.
Despite this, it was truly wonderful performance and really demonstrated the potential that this side has to play a significant role at the business end of the season.
Bailey Beck went into defence to support others, but excelled when providing a consistently effective avenue into attack by backing his skills and judgement to telling effect.
Young defender Tye Hourigan has taken the responsibility to quell the affect of key opposition forwards as well as being a key prime-mover for the side with his highly effective use of the ball by hand or foot.
Sam Flanders’s 20-plus possessions, eight contested marks, six tackles and four goals indicate the affect he had on the match.
Returning from injury, Austin Hodge not only kicked four goals, but played a significant role in several more with his unselfish team focus and clever ball use.
Another to set the tone from the start of the match was Boadie Motton, who again was the initiator of many effective passages of play with his unique ability to win, and efficiently use, the ball in the tightest contests.
Noah Gown’s ability to kick long and direct was vital in the side’s improvement in ball use in the forward 50.
Captain Xavier Duursma won 20-plus contested possessions and had the skill and self-belief to create run by playing on in most situations and then making effective use of the ball by hand or foot.
Brock Smith recorded 20 possessions, nine marks, five tackles and seven spoils.
Ryan Sparkes has the skill and self-confidence to make the right decision at the right time and was never beaten when one out. His ability to generate effective passages of play was matched by Bailey Patterson who also thrived when backing his judgement effectively as well as ensuring that his opponents were unable to win or effectively use the ball in contests.
The Power will play the Greater Western Victoria Rebels at Craigieburn on Saturday.