GIPPSLAND Power took a step forward in the TAC Cup against the highly improved Western Jets, running out 10-point winners, 18.11 (119) to 16.13 (109).
The Power had Ben Kearns back from his time with Casey in the VFL and Troy Toussaint made his TAC Cup debut. Captain Josh Cashman played his first of three games for Casey Scorpians against VFL powerhouse Port Melbourne.
In front of a big crowd and in ideal footy conditions, the Power was dominant early and Declan Keilty and Josh Scott combined to open the scoring.
Some good forward pressure by Alex Saunders resulted in a free kick and he found Jake Thomas for another major.
Clever ball use by Nate Paredes allowed Lachie Channing to crumb well off the pack for another before some quick, long and direct use of the ball by Liam Nash and Ed Morris found Saunders for the fourth goal in the opening 10 minutes of the quarter.
The Jets hit back well on the rebound for two vital goals but some better ball use allowed Thomas to kick his second and Channing set up Scott for another late in the term. By the first break, the Power led by 24 points and seemingly had the Jets under control.
In the first 15 minutes of the second quarter, neither side could kick a goal, and Saunders won a timely free kick to break the drought. Ominously the Jets were able to easily exploit poor ball use by the Power and they had two goals on the rebound.
Some classy play by Nathan Dennison allowed Scott to give the Power a vital goal, but the Jets exploited indifferent defence to reduce the margin to 17 points by the long break.
Power coach Nick Stevens let go with a rare burst to draw the boys’ attention to what was required to uphold the side’s game plan and they appeared to respond positively when Alex Carr found Kearns who snapped a fine goal.
The Jets then had two quick goals after pitiful manning up by the Power and Carr had to pull off a freakish snap from the pocket to restore the status quo.
Instead of being inspired by his great play, the Power then allowed the Jets to seize the initiative and they had three unanswered goals as gifts from the Power due to an inability or unwillingness to be accountable to their opponents.
Some intelligent long disposal by Paredes allowed Scott to stop the rot but the Jets had another soft goal from the resulting centre bounce. It took some more great ball use by Nash, Carr and Kearns to allow Carr to finish it off with an important goal, but the Power again gave away two more goals with woeful manning up on the rebound.
By the beginning of the final term the Jets had a nine point lead and seemed prepared to work a lot harder than the Power.
A clever snap by Morris was followed by another by Saunders and it appeared that the Power had finally realised that the Jets needed to be shown a lot more respect.
However, this wasn’t the case and the Jets took further advantage of poor manning up. Some great vision and ball use by Saunders gave Morris his second for the term and then Saunders did it again to find Ben Thomas for a fine goal.
The Jets hit back again with another easy goal, but the Power then used the ball well from defence and Scott was on the end of the positive play to register his fourth for the match.
As if on cue, the Jets scored yet another on the rebound but the Power finally sealed the result with a stunning mark by Paul Pattison who then kicked a great goal on the angle.
Josh Scott finished the match with four goals, while Alex Sunders and Ed Morris kicked three each.
The Power now has another break where many boys will be required to attend a camp for the state squad.
The majority of the Power group will be able to return to their home clubs, although Stevens is sure to ask some of the key players to rest as they prepare for the next phase of the side’s 2013 TAC Cup campaign.
They will have a crucial test of the learning when they take on the Eastern Ranges in a game that will be hotly contested. The Ranges have begun the season well and will ruthlessly exploit any deficiencies in the Power’s mindset.
Stevens was well aware the boys were nowhere near their best form at this stage of the season, but he knows that last week was unacceptable, and will be hell-bent on ensuring that they get back to the sort of play that fits in with the game plan.