A TRIP to Bendigo proved to be very productive for the Gippsland Power when it recorded a resounding victory over the Bendigo Pioneers, 23.11 (149) to 6.8 (44), in the TAC Cup.
Josh Scott was the star performer, kicking nine goals, while Ben Kearns booted four with three each from Alex Saunders and Alex Carr.
After a narrow loss to the Chargers the week before, coach Nick Stevens had focussed on the positives from that game and encouraged the boys to back themselves and keep trying to apply the key elements of the side’s game plan.
The Power went into the game without Christian Buykx-Smith and Josh Cashman due to injury but this gave first-gamers Adam Diamond and Ben Thomas the chance to show their wares.
Clever forward Ben Kearns returned from Casey in the VFL after kicking five goals in an impressive debut at such an elite level. This meant that the side still had three “old-timers” available for the multitude of recruiters to see at Bendigo on a big weekend of football.
On the 20-minute mark, the Pioneers scored on the rebound but the Power responded with Carr setting up Declan Keilty for a clever snap. By the first change the Power led by 14 points and the Pioneers had shown that they would be competitive if allowed to apply their game plan.
Some very clever ball use by Lachie Channing allowed Saunders to score a good goal but the boys then began to miss opportunities to extend their lead.
Some more intense pressure by the Power saw Keilty become a goal provider for Brenton Rees and then Keilty got another for himself with a good snap.
Some excellent skills and uncanny vision by Saunders resulted in Scott kicking his fourth for the match and then Saunders finished off more good ball use to give the Power a 44-point lead at the long break.
The Power had shut down much of the Pioneers avenues to attack and had kept up the intense pressure on their opponents all over the ground.
In the opening minutes of the third term Adam Diamond gave Scott his fifth goal and then Channing linked up with Ben Kearns whose strong hands in the marking duel were amazing.
He repeated the deed almost straight away and it was clear that the Pioneers were struggling to cope with the intense pressure being applied on them all over the field. Keilty was again involved in setting up an opportunity for a team mate and Carr kicked a long bomb from the 50 metre line.
The Pioneers scored their first goal for more than 50 minutes of play and then repeated the job to remind the Power it needed to keep working hard if it was to put a smile on their coach’s face by the end of the match.
Diamond went long and direct from the resultant centre bounce and once again Kearns marked well and kicked accurately.
It was the Pioneers who scored next but yet again Keilty was the initiator for another long Carr major. Late in the quarter Keilty and Carr linked together with long and direct kicks with Lukas Webb on the receiving end.
By the last break the Power lead was 77 points and it was again challenged to maintain its composure by the coach and work hard to finish the game off.
The Power kicked seven goals to one in the final term to win by 105 points.
The TAC Cup now has a bye where the state squad will have a camp to prepare for the national championships later in the season.
The Power will have several players involved in this process and most of the remaining players will have a rare chance to go back to their clubs in local football.
It’s likely Stevens will also use the opportunity to allow some key players to have a well deserved rest after going through intense work over the pre-season as well as a tough start to the 2013 TAC Cup season.
After the break the Power will take on the Sandringham Dragons in another good test.