GIPPSLAND Power continued its winning ways with a 23-point victory over Calder Cannons.
Taking plenty of confidence from last weekend’s triumph against TAC Cup football ladder leader Geelong, Power knocked off the Cannons on their home deck, 14.16 (100) to 11.11 (77).
For the second weekend in a row, Power faced trying weather conditions. A bitterly cold wind howled down the ground, providing a strong advantage to one end. The wind was so strong that players kicking the ball high into the wind found it coming right back to them like a boomerang.
Kicking with the wind in the first quarter, Power quickly established a lead.
Will Stephenson was involved in everything early. If he wasn’t kicking goals himself he was setting up his teammates.
For all of its hard work though, Power led by just 15 points at the first break.
Lapses in concentration and turnovers proved costly in the second term, with Calder using the wind advantage and piling on five goals. When Stephenson kicked his second goal against the run of play, it sparked the team into action and although it wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard, Power finished off the half strongly.
Jai Rout was rewarded for his forward pressure, winning a free kick 40 metres out from goal right on the half time siren. A controversial ‘touched’ decision denied him what seemed to be a goal.
Trailing by 13 points, Power went into the half-time break full of confidence. Coach Leigh Brown implored his young players to kick long down the middle of the ground to maximise the wind advantage and for the midfielders to increase their defensive efforts and be more accountable.
Brown was pleased with his team in the third term, as it did just what he asked. Power dominated centre clearances and utilised the ball well with an eight-goal to one quarter which set-up the victory.
Nathan Voss was lively up forward. booting three goals in 10 minutes, and Josh Patullo let one go from the centre square which sailed over the goal umpire’s head.
Patullo dominated, both in the air and around the ground, following up his ruck work with clearances and pressure efforts.
Playing as the 23rd man, under 16s player Xavier Duursma kicked his first TAC Cup goal, and when Ben Ainsworth showed his elite skills with an interception and goal, Power had a 38-point lead going into the final term.
In any other circumstance, such a lead would be a comfortable position, but since the Cannons were kicking with the wind in the final quarter, the pressure was on Power’s defenders to nullify the advantage and hang on to the lead.
Power controlled the ball early in the fourth quarter and when Trent Armour kicked a good goal from a set shot, it seemingly broke the spirits of the Cannons. The home side kicked four goals using the wind, but the defensive efforts from Brad Dessent, Campbell McKenzie, Sean Masterson, Kade Reenoy and Keenan Hughes constantly repelled its attack.
Coach Brown commended the team effort after the match.
“Our effort was really good all game, but the difference was how we used the ball in the second half,” he said.
“We were much smarter. We really have come a long way from when we played Calder earlier in the season (when Power lost by 52 points).
“The confidence of the group is really growing.”
The TAC Cup competition takes a break for a development weekend, but there will be plenty of Power players in action elsewhere. A number of bottom age players have been selected by the Victoria Country Academy to play in a match with an eye to next year’s under 18 national championship.
Ben Ainsworth will also be running out for VFL affiliate Casey Scorpions as the 23rd man against Essendon, with former Power player Nash Holmes a potential opponent.
Gippsland Power will next play the Eastern Ranges at Morwell on Saturday, August 13.