GIPPSLAND Power faced the most serious test of its positive recent form, the TAC Cup’s top side the Oakleigh Chargers.
In ideal conditions at Morwell, the Power demonstrated the best and worst of its 2014 season form.
Against such quality opposition, it was highly competitive for more than three quarters but, in the 20 minutes where the players didn’t apply themselves, they allowed eight unanswered goals and effectively put themselves out of the game.
The Chargers won 12.16 (88) to 10.4 (64).
The fact the final margin was only 24points is a credit to the boys’ ability to fight back from a situation where it looked as if they were going to be thrashed.
Further analysis of the key statistics shows how they were able to work hard to restore some vital credibility when things were looking so grim. The most important fact was that they outscored the Chargers by twenty five points in the “non-carnage” part of the match.
The Power was still missing vital players Jordie Cunico, Josh Dunkley and Lucas Webb to state commitments but were bolstered by the return of Sam Skinner. The Chargers were also without key personnel for the same reason but had many of their good players back from school football.
Effectively it appeared as if, on paper, the Power wasfacing an almost impossible challenge to their recent good form and the all-important self-belief that has arisen from this.
After almost 10minutes of uncompromising play by both sides, the Chargers opened the goal scoring but the Power maintained their intense competitiveness and a free kick to Skinner resulted in a crucial reply for the local boys.
Neither side was willing to concede further goals, and, by the end of the first term, the Chargers went to the first change leading nine points to six.
In the opening minutes of the second quarter the Power asserted itself into the match when James Jacobsen went long and direct into attack and Josh Patullo managed a great snap from 50metres out. However, instead of capitalising on this excellent start, the Powerthen began to make a series of poor mistakes which allowed the Chargers to go into attack on the rebound.
The Chargerskicked the next eight goals in the match with great skill and under very little pressure and, as a consequence, made the Power look very ordinary.
Importantly, the Power, through some excellent attacking play by Declan Keilty, kicked the last of the term and went to the long break forty points down and looking likely to be blown away in the second half.
Typically hard-nosed play by gutsy Power little man Nick Argento set up Keilty for the opening goal of the quarter and the Chargers were again struggling to shake themselves free of the intense pressure that was being applied all over the field.
Due to this great pressure, it took them ten minutes to get a goal and it was then followed by another “soft” one which again raised fears of a blow-out.
Some outstanding team work by Keilty, Argento and Brendan Brew was converted by Tom Papley and the Power went into the last break still 46points down but having stopped the flow of soft goals by the Chargers.
Some more superb team oriented ball use by Mitch Stanlake resulted in another to his mate Keilty to continue the boy’s positive approach but the Chargers then spoiled the party with another easy goal.
It was now crunch time again for the Power and its willingness to do the hard things was being questioned by the best team in the competition.
Nash Holmes and Thomas Wilson set up some more great team work and, this time, Ash Di Ciero was able to convert this positivity on the scoreboard.
The Power seemed inspired by this approach and Skinner went long from the resultant centre bounce and Di Ciero snapped a “ripper” despite being under the pump.
The Chargers were being made to struggle by the intense pressure being applied by the Power and their ability to score from turnovers had dried up.
Typifying the unselfish team-orientation being used by the Power, Jack Hammond set up Di Ciero for his third despite being well within scoring distance himself. Ben Timms and Tate Marsh then used vision and skill to find Holmes who kicked truly to reduce the margin to twenty four points late in the term.
By the final siren this was the ultimate margin and, importantly, was a fair reflection of the difference between both sides.
Alex Carr again led by stellar example, winning his usual massive number of contested possessions as well as applying intense pressure on opponents with bone crunching tackles.
In the ruck and in key forward positions, Skinner showed why he had played a significant role with the state side.
Young defender Ben Dessent was under intense pressure early in the game and stood tall with his strength and disciplined team oriented play.
Matching Dessent’sdetermination was Connor Ambler who again showed the sort of ability to apply intense pressure in the tightest of situations and then have the ability to win and effectively use his many possessions.
Another player who has become a vital cog of the midfield unit is Papley and once again he made invaluable contributions in two key elements of this position.
Once again Ash Ciero was asked to take on bigger opponents in defence and attack. He rose manfully to both challenges and was an effective defender under pressure but really stood tall as a target up
Once again coach Leigh Brown was left with mixed emotions by the boys’ inability to maintain their intensity for four quarters. As they have done all season, they had been very competitive for much of a game despite being up against high quality opposition.
The Power will next play the Geelong Falcons on Saturday at Visy Park in Melbourne. The Falcons have struggled for consistency recently but will represent a real challenge for the Power’s ability to play competitively for four quarters.
Cunico, Webb and Dunkley will return from state commitments and some of the injured boys’ will also raise their hands for selection. This will mean that the side will have crucial class and skill to add to the many positive quality boys already in the team.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.