Gippsland over-powered by Geelong

GIPPSLAND Power was unable with withstand a late surge against the Geelong Falcons, losing its TAC Cup football encounter by 35 points.

For almost three and a half quarters, Gippsland Power served it up to the Falcons and looked likely to be too strong for its highly-rated opponents in ideal conditions at Bendigo. However, in the final 10 minutes, the Falcons shook off the Power and slammed on six unanswered goals to record an amazing victory, 17.12 (114) to 11.13 (79).

For the Power it was another case of what could have been rather than what actually happened and provides coach Leigh Brown with the ideal ammunition to use to challenge the boys to work harder, especially under pressure against top sides.

Both sides went into the match without key players, with the Power missing Liam Nash and Christian Buykx-Smith because of injury, while the Falcons had two of their best on duty in Europe with the AIS/AFL Academy.

Bairnsdale’s Ben Timms was called up to replace Buykx-Smith and the Power still appeared to have the depth of quality players needed against the Falcons. To prove that this was necessary, the Falcons kicked two relatively soft goals at the start of the match and had the Power on the back foot.

It took some direct forward play for Jordan Cunico and Michael Jacobsen to combine to get the Power back on track and then, some typical Power forward pressure, saw Brad Olsson set-up Lucas Webb for a second major.

The Falcons regained the lead on the rebound from a Power turnover but some great ball use by Cunico and Tom Papley allowed Lincoln Robinson to score a vital goal. Things looked even better when Sam Skinner helped Jacobsen score his second for the term but the Falcons hit back late in the term to reduce the margin to one point.

Two factors had contributed to the Power’s narrow lead with the Falcons ability to exploit turnovers being critical but the Power’s wastefulness of scoring opportunities being even more worrying. This was emphasised in the opening minutes of the second quarter when the Falcons were “gifted” a soft goal by the Power.

It took a great bit of strong individual play by Cunico to give the Power the lead and then some long and direct ball use by Nate Dennison to see Nick Argento score a fine rovers goal off the pack.

As if it needed reminding, the Falcons embarrassed the Power with another soft goal from the resultant centre bounce and, once again, the Power began to waste scoring opportunities with poor finishing. It took some more Cunico magic after another positive piece of Dennison disposal late in the term for the Power to have a seven-point lead at the long break.

There were plenty of positives for coach Brown to focus on during the break but he would have had some concern about their inability to fully capitalise on some excellent work in the contests around the ground.

A fine long and direct attacking thrust by Josh Dunkley resulted in some excellent crumbing by Webb and the Power had extended their narrow lead.

For the next 10 minutes, both sides’ defences controlled play and neither side could break the stranglehold they held over play.

The Falcons exploited another Power turnover and broke the deadlock but Cunico and Webb combined to restore the status quo with some very clever ball use.

An questionable 50 metre penalty gave the Falcons a vital goal late but Aloysio Ferreria took advantage of a 50 in Power’s favour to give it a 13-point lead at the final change.

With the match up for grabs, the Falcons opened up with another soft goal after a turnover and the Power then compounded the problem by missing easy shots up forward. One of these misses was clinically exploited by the Falcons with a very soft goal and then they took the lead with another easy major.

Some more productive ball use by Argento and Webb resulted in Cunico’s third but it was only a temporary lull in the Falcon’s run.

They then slammed on six more unanswered goals as the Power was caught out on the rebound and the defenders were unable to cope with their ability to find space and totally over run their opponents.

After being relatively impressive for much of the match, the Power was simply outclassed late and will need to be far more clinical with its ball use if it is to be a serious threat in the 2014 TAC Cup season.

After a slow start to the season because of a recovery from injury, Declan Keilty took on the responsibility to be a central figure in defence and did a fine job in soundly beating key Falcons forwards. He not only took them out of the game but also won many vital possessions himself.

On a day when the Power wasted scoring opportunities, Jordan Cunico was at his potent best with his ability to finish off their work as well as his skills and reading of the play when setting positive passages of effective football. He will be a critical element in the Power’s prospects for the rest of the season.

After making a stunning TAC Cup debut in round two, James Jacobsen continued his excellent form with another impressive defensive display where he also stopped the influence of dangerous opponents as well as winning many important contests himself.

Fellow defender Mitchell Stanlake was another to respond to the challenges involved in stemming the Falcons attacking moves. He was able to do that manfully as well as backing his judgement and skill to win vital possessions and use them positively to the side’s advantage.

In his third game of TAC Cup football, Nick Argento showed why he has made such a fine start to the season with his ability to apply his skills and very disciplined, team oriented football to the side’s advantage. He read the play well and never wasted any of his hard-won possessions.

Linclon Robinson is another bottom-age player who has impressed this season. He was able to be effective all over the ground as he responded positively to the coach’s need to use him in defence, attack and on the ball and also looks set to be an important member of the side this year.

The TAC Cup has a bye over the Easter break and it should give it a chance to get back into the sort of mindset that was so positive in the first two rounds of the 2014 season.

The injuries to Nash and Buykx-Smith will take longer to be overcome and the Power will need to be ready for some more pressure when it takes on the Sandringham Dragons at Morwell on Saturday, April 26.

ONCE again the under 16 development squad went to Bendigo to complete its program and recorded a stunning victory over the Falcon’s youngsters after a tense first three quarters.

The Power dominated the last term and played brilliant football under intense pressure.

Better players in a fine display of team football were Ben Ainsworth, Nick Mulqueen, Tomas Sabell, Kade Renooy, Jesse Collins, Jai Rout, Kaj Patterson and Clayton Kingi.

The significance of the consistently high standard of play that this side has displayed is seen by the bottom age players’ contributions for the Power in 2014. Nick Argento, Tate Marsh, Brendan Brew, Josh Dunkley, Connor Ambler, Darnell Grech, Sam Skinner, Ryan Hearn and Lincoln Robinson all came through the 2013 program and were well primed by Rob Reid’s program to be key elements of the Power’s team for this year.