GIPPSLAND Power improved throughout its TAC Cup football match on Sunday to defeat the Western Jets by 105 points.
In ideal conditions at Morwell, the Power won 22.22 (154) to 7.7 (49).
Ben Ainsworth was back after AFL Academy duties in New Zealand and Dylan Proctor able to get out of the medical room for a welcome return. However, dangerous forward Tate Marsh was missing because of a minor injury.
The Power opened well but, ominously, it was off target early after working so hard to get the ball into scoring positions.
The home side was applying excellent forward pressure on the Jets and Nash Holmes finally broke the deadlock with a clever snap from well out.
Soon after, Todd Beck delivered the ball long and direct and Deven Costigan was able to rove the pack to telling effect. Things were looking good for the Power but some indecisive defence set the Jets up for a gift goal.
The Power upped its work load but once again wasted chances to stretch the lead. This problem became even more relevant when the Jets kicked another, relatively simple, goal after some more slack defence.
Key forward Sam Skinner took the initiative and goaled after a fine contested mark.
By the first change over the Power led by 10 points. The Power had had nine scoring shots compared to the Jets’ four and, even more importantly, had 15 forward 50 entries compared to the visitors’ seven.
Early in the second term it was evident that the Power hadn’t listened to coach Leigh Brown’s reminder of the need to finish off the hard work when in attack. The Power again missed “gettable” shots but some fine ball use from Brad Olsson, Ethan Park and Todd Beck took the ball from defence to find Skinner who kicked accurately.
The Jets then kicked a vital goal in reply and it took some good work by Aloysio Ferreira to allow Kade Renooy to crumb cleverly off the pack.
A long kick from Jackson McMahon created another opportunity for Renooy to rove off the resultant pack and kick another.
More wasted scoring opportunities by the Power were exploited well by the Jets on the rebound and yet again they were within striking distance of the lead.
The Power generated another excellent team goal from defence as Aloysio Ferreira, Renooy and McMahon combined to set up Tom Papley for an important major. It seemed the Power had finally heeded the message about finishing effectively when some excellent forward pressure by Beck saw Ben Ainsworth make something from nothing and kick a freak goal over his head.
As if inspired, the Power again applied intense forward pressure and this time McMahon was on the receiving end.
By the long break the home side led by 38 points but analysis of the key statistical measures showed it could have led by far more. It had 13 more scoring opportunities than the Jets and had been inside their forward 50 zone 21 more times.
An excellent clearance from the centre bounce of the second half had Beck set-up Harrison McKay kick the opening goal but, instead of being inspired, the Power again missed “gettables”.
Papley and McMahon then combined brilliantly to find Skinner and the big man kicked truly.
Just to remind the boys to stay focused, the Jets again exploited sloppy defence but the Power upped the ante and more excellent team work saw Holmes, McMahon and Papley set up Beck for a well-deserved major.
Yet again the Power undid good play from defence with ineffective finishing before it was rewarded with a goal after great pressure by Park, Ferreira, Beck and finally Holmes.
Nash then turned to provider when he and Ainsworth went long and Skinner snapped a fine goal.
By the end of the term the Power had extended the lead to 65 points and, despite a few missed opportunities, had been more effective with their use of the ball when in attack.
A free kick and then a 50m penalty allowed Ainsworth to open the scoring for the Power going into the final term and then Will Leslie did some clever things to set up Papley for the side’s second.
Some intense forward pressure resulted in Ben Dessent finding Tom Hobbs for a rare goal and it appeared as if the Boys had finally shaken off the dogged Jets. This scenario appeared to be supported by more excellent pressure and great team work saw Beck kick his second goal.
A brilliant contested mark by Skinner saw the ball in a dangerous spot and Holmes snapped a “blinder” off the pack.
The Power was dominating play and more highly skilled and quick ball use by Matt De Bruin, Connor Ambler and Holmes was well finished by Hobbs. Soon after this fine goal, Beck and Papley crafted a chance for McKay and he kicked the Power’s seventh unanswered goal for the quarter.
Almost on cue, the Jets broke their drought after taking advantage of a Power turnover but the boys responded with more outstanding pressure and an excellent contested mark and goal from Papley.
In the final moments of the quarter the Jets scored a consolation goal but the final score had the Power record a 105-point victory.
The longer the game had gone, the more effective the Power had become up forward, and it was finally able to reward itself for an incredible workrate in the contested issues all over the field.
To finish any TAC Cup game with one goal for every three forward 50 entries is a sign that a side has played well, and, the Power could have even done better with some more effective finishing.
After establishing himself as a steady contributor in 2014, Todd Beck has quickly stepped things up to becoming a key play maker for the side with his amazing work rate, skill under pressure and pace. He has developed amazing levels of self-belief under Brown’s coaching this season and will be a critical factor in the side progress through the rest of the season.
Sam Skinner is another to play with strong self-belief and he dominated much of the effective play up forward with his strong aerial skills and equally powerful workrate when the ball was at ground level or in tight contests. He thrives on this responsibility and always has a team focus.
Nash Holmes is renowned as one of the competition’s toughest ever and effective midfielders and, in the first half, was at his hard-nosed best. However, in the second half, he went up forward and applied the same sort of intense pressure to set up scoring opportunities for others as well as kicking them himself.
Tom Papley spent time on the ball as well as up forward and in both areas used his skill to telling effect. He was a highly effective member of the hard-nosed on ball unit but really excelled when near goals where he set-up others as well as finishing off their work. Ben Ainsworth was another to excel in two different areas of the field when he was on the ball and then “rested” up forward. His ability to take strong contested marks against taller opponents and to kick the ball long with poise and great accuracy not only makes him such a dangerous player at this level but also in the up-coming national championships.
Aloysio Ferreira was another to benefit from the coach’s flexible use of players in the second half of the game. After excelling as a dashing and tight defender, Ferreira moved up field and made significant contributions to many of the sides forward thrusts in with his unique combination of pace and evasive skills.
The Power will travels to Queensland next weekend to take on its state team, which is preparing for the national under 18 championships.