Power lets another win slip

FOR the second TAC Cup match in a row, Gippsland Power wasted a winning position against a competitive opponent with some poor finishing in attack.

The Power lost to the Sandringham Dragons 10.13 (73) to 4.16 (40) at Morwell on Saturday.

Adding to the frustration was the fact the Power was very honest for three and a half quarters but faded late to make it look via the scoreboard like it was soundly beaten when, in fact, it could easily have won the match.

The Power went into the game with Todd Beck, Macklin Raine, and Dylan Proctor making their Power debuts, Nash Holmes playing his first for this season and Bohdi Walker returning from injury. The Dragons also had to make many changes because more than half their squad was committed to school football for much of the season.

It was the Dragons who took the initiative from the opening bounce with a good goal and the Power replied when Nick Argento, Sam Skinner and Jordie Cunico combined with skill and poise under pressure to set up Nathan Dennison for a timely reply. From the resultant centre bounce, Alex Carr went long and direct and Michael Jacobsen again fed Dennison to give the Power the lead.

In the later part of the term, the Dragons scored two timely goals almost against the run of play and punished the Power for some wasted scoring opportunities due to poor finishing and dodgy decision making. By the first change the Dragons led by six points and, importantly, had the all-important momentum going their way for the start of the second quarter.

This fact was reinforced when the goaled early in the term and had the Power well and truly on the back foot. For much of the rest of the quarter the defences of both sides were on top and goal scoring seemed to be very hard. Once again the Power wasted potential scoring opportunities with a lack of effective kicking and were then doubly punished when the Dragons again scored two late goals to go to the long break twenty-five points up and again, seemingly, with the game under their control.

Despite being very effective for much of the term, the Power’s problem was again wasted inside fifty opportunities. It had 14 entries for no majors in the quarter to ensure that the Dragons’ lead was much larger than it should have been based on general play and competitive effort all over the ground.

The Dragons again scored the first goal of the term and it looked like they were going to really blow the Power out of the game.

To its credit, the Power lifted its work rate and began to dominate the match in terms of contested possessions and steely defence. The Power consistently pumped the ball up forward but kicked six points in a row from this dominance in general play.

A free kick and goal to Josh Dunkley broke the drought after 50 minutes of being goal less, but the Dragons still led by 19 points with one quarter to go.

To fully understand how much this was so harmful to the Power’s prospects, simple statistics provide a stark representation of the reality. The Power had 12 inside 50m opportunities to the Dragons’ three but only out-scored them by six points.

The Power simply dominated the quarter everywhere but on the scoreboard and could easily have been well in front based on how hard the boys had worked to hold the Dragons and set up scoring chances for themselves.

Things looked good for the Power when it scored the opening goal of the last term after some excellent rebound football by James Jacobsen resulted in great goal to Tate Marsh. However, the Dragons lifted their workrate and stemmed the flow for the next 15 minutes of the quarter.

Neither side was using their hard-won scoring opportunities effectively and, it looked likely that the Dragons were going to hold on for a narrow, if unconvincing, win.

However, the Power, to add insult to injury, again let its opponents score seemingly easy late goals to record a much bigger winning margin than they truly deserved. Three goals in the last few minutes extended the Dragons’ lead to 33 points but the Power had shown that it has what it takes to be so much closer than this against good sides.

On a day when there were twelve bottom age players in the side, leadership was crucial for the Power’s prospects. Jordie Cunico responded manfully to this challenge and led the way with over thirty important possessions. He rarely wasted any of them despite often being under extreme pressure and kept it up for the full match.

In his first game for the season, Nash Holmes showed that he is going to be a vital cog in the Power team. His hardness in contested issues is a naturally key element of his play but he also demonstrated the ability to be creative with his use of the ball, especially when under pressure.

Sam Skinner was again faced with a tough challenge as a key position player up against strong opponents. He worked very hard to be competitive in every contest he was involved in and won the ball in tight situations as well as being a consistent target with his strong leads and marking.

Despite being “altitudinally challenged”, Nick Argento again played as if he was a big man with his uncanny ability to win the hard ball and then work even harder to ensure that he used the ball effectively.

On-baller Connor Ambler is another who doesn’t accept what the tape measure shows and is willing to put himself in the thick of the action to win contested possessions or, importantly, to stop opponents getting easy touches.

Debutant Dylan Proctor made the most of his opportunity and, initially, kept dangerous opponents out of the action. He then had the confidence to win key possessions himself and worked hard to use them efficiently.

Leigh Brown and his assistant coaches will continue to work on the development of the side’s all-important self-belief in preparation for their next match against the Western Jets at Williamstown on Saturday. On paper, they have won only one game this season but, he truly believes that they could and should have won all four games based on general play in each game.