Gippsland Power emerged from a danger game against a competitive Northern Knights side with a strong 103 point victory that enabled them to maintain top spot on the TAC Cup ladder.
The Knights had some of the state players available while the Power, in stark contrast, were without five of their best contributors so far this season.
Jack Johnstone had been rewarded for his top start to the season with a call up to the Casey Scorpions in the VFL. Adding to the pressure on the Power was the fact that Nick Graham, Jack Leslie, Josh Scott and Ben Kearns were part of the Vic Country state side that won their opening game in the National championships.
In ideal conditions at Preston City oval, Simon Deery went long and direct to allow Daniel Jackson to score a fine goal off the resulting pack. Nate Paredes continued his heady play to find Alex Carr for another and it looked as if the Power were ready to play.
Some more long and direct play by Anthony Tipungwuti set up Tim Membrey to open his scoring but the Knights goaled after a free kick was awarded to them.
The Power were off target from set shots and it took a Tim Membrey speccie and goal to get them back on track. By the first siren the Power led by 22 points after the Knights had put them under the pump with their strong and determined play.
Some fine pressure applied by Paredes gave Membrey his second major before Membrey and Tom Fusinato used vision and skill to set up Shannen Lange to goal from a set shot.
More good work by Tom Muir and Deery saw Membrey take another strong mark and then kick yet another goal.
Some terrific team work by the Power resulted in another goal kicked by Muir. Some more positive use of the ball allowed Matt Northe to join the party for two fine goals and then Adam Wallace found Membrey who snapped another.
It was starting to look ugly for the Knights when vision by Fusinato and Deery set up Lange for his second from close in. Lange turned provider with some good ball use to find Sale team-mate Will Hams for a fine long goal from the 50 metre line. By the end of the term the Power had extended their lead to 72 points after one of their best quarters of football for the year.
The Knights opened the scoring in the third term to remind the Power that they had to stay on track to limit their impact on the scoreboard. Some clever work by Aaron Heppell allowed Tipungwuti to enjoy his time up forward before Lange, Wallace and Muir combined cleverly to set up Deery for his first goal for the game.
Wallace and Tipungwuti then joined forces to set up Membrey for a fine major from deep in the forward pocket.
Membrey unselfishly found long-term team mate Northe for his third goal and this seemed to inspire Paredes to use typically strong pressure to set Membrey up for his seventh for the game.
Late in the quarter the Knights scored another major but the Power replied with some excellent team work to allow Carr to run into open goal for a 98 point lead.
The Knights capitalised on some lazy Power defensive work early in the last quarter but Josh Cashman took advantage of a rare time up forward with a clever snap. The Power then squandered some gettable opportunities before Cashman kicked his second after a fine interception of a Knights defensive clearance. Not to be outdone, Northe marked well and goaled after Paredes had sent the ball long and direct again but the Power were then embarrassed by two Knights goals after some really sloppy defence.
By the end of the match the Power had won by 103 points but would rue the chances that they wasted in the last term.
They went forward eighteen times in the quarter for only three goals and undid some of their fine work from the other three terms.
The Power now has a week off for a bye before coming up against the highly rated North Ballarat Rebels. Again, both sides will go into the match without key players due to state commitments.
Gippsland Power 22.18. 150 d Northern Knights 7.5.47.
Goals: T Membrey 7, M Northe 4, J Cashman, S Lange, A Carr 2, W Hams, S Deery, D Jackson, T Muir, A Tipungwuti 1.