Gippsland Power scored a comfortable 59 point win over the highly rated Geelong Falcons at the weekend.
The Falcons had dominated numbers in the Victorian Country state team and on paper represented a genuine threat to the Power’s unbeaten 2012 season.
Coach Nick Stevens said he was delighted with the way the team responded to the challenge, giving the Falcons a lesson in disciplined team football on the way to a 14.12.96 to 4.13.37 victory,
Early in the first term it was obvious that the Falcons were ready to challenge the Power and both sides were struggling to score goals due to the pressure being applied.
It took some magical ball use by Nate Paredes to set Josh Scott up to open the Power’s goal scoring and then long-term team mates Nick Graham and Tim Membrey combined to give the side another major.
Some more good work in tight by Paredes and Shannen Lange saw Scott kick another and the Power appeared to be on a roll.
Instead of conceding the initiative, the Falcons put the Power defence under pressure and kicked the last goal of the term to go to the first break back in the match. The lead was fourteen points to the Power but should have been greater as they had been forward twice as many times as the Falcons but were struggling to convert these opportunities to goals.
In deteriorating conditions, an easy goal to the Falcons reminded the Power of the need to remain focussed and some good work by Graham and Matt Northe at ground level allowed Membrey to kick a crucial reply.
A free kick gave the Falcons the initiative and they then got another vital major on the rebound to get within a goal close to half time. Some more purposeful ball use allowed Northe to set up Scott for a Power reply and they went to the long break still ahead by fourteen points.
Early in the third term Simon Deery and Scott combined well to allow Lange to score the opening goal of the quarter.
Some excellent defensive pressure by the Power and poor finishing by the Falcons saw them waste their chances to stay within reach. In contrast, the Power were clinical in their ball use and great work by Will Hams and Graham resulted in an easy major to Jack Leslie.
After being involved in some of the build up to earlier goals, Graham joined the throng himself after more excellent ball use by the Power. A clever intercept by Drew McGrath allowed him to find his Traralgon team mate Northe and by the last change the Power had extended their scoreboard advantage to 35 points.
In heavy rain the Falcons opened the scoring for the final term, but excellent ball skills by Scott allowed Tom Muir to score a Power reply. Paredes again used a hard-won ball to give Muir another and the Power were dominating play.
Scott took a terrific contested mark and then kicked a fine goal from 50 metres, good ball use by Northe set up Scott deep in a forward pocket and he kicked brilliantly to finish off some more great team work by his side.
He wasn’t done though and he again goaled after excellent work by first gamer, Michael Kelly and Lange as the final margin blew out to 59 points.
Backman Will Hams soundly defeated a range of opponents, Scott finished off excellent team work with superb finishing, while Jack Johnstone used his pace and strength. Ryley Hall was a crucial member of a tight defensive unit, midfielder Ben Kearns won many possessions while gritty defender Tom Fusinato was ideally suited to the tough conditions.
Lange also thrived in the tough conditions and was at the bottom of most of the packs all over the ground. He applied enormous pressure to opponents with ten crunching tackles as well as winning many possessions himself and then linking up with team mates to generate drive and effective team work.
This week, Gippsland Power take on the Northern Knights, who have been competitive against the top sides, at Preston City oval with the Power missing five key players to state duty.