In surprisingly good conditions at North Ballarat, the Loy Yang B Gippsland Power had its first loss of the season, going down to second-placed North Ballarat Rebels in round nine of the TAC Cup on Saturday, 8.9.57 to 4.4.28.
The Power were without Nick Graham, Will Hams and Ben Kearns, who were playing for Country Victoria, while captain Tim Membrey was missing due to a minor injury.
On a good note, Anthony Tipungwuti and Jack Leslie returned following their state duties, while Jack Johnstone came back after two excellent performances with the Casey Scorpions in the Victorian Football League.
Early in the game both sides worked hard to apply pressure, but the Rebels broke the deadlock after some slack play by the Power.
Conversely, the Power struggled to be as effective when they went forward and were three goals down at quarter time.
The second quarter opened better for the Power, when Jack Johnstone found Simon Deery for a much-needed goal.
Instead of capitalising, the Power over-committed when going forward and the Rebels were able to find free players to set up simple scoring opportunities.
By the end of the term, they trailed by 39 points and the game appeared to be over.
Nick Stevens used the break to remind his players of the game plan that had been so crucial to their success this year.
Some more effective pressure by the Power allowed Shannen Lange to find Tom Muir who kicked a vital goal for the side.
Once again the Power were punished for some poor disposal skills.
However, the Power rallied and started to get back to their trademark game plan.
They stemmed the Rebels’ goal rush and by the last break were back to the half-time margin.
In the opening minutes of the final term, the Power rebounded skilfully from defence and Lachie Channing, Muir and Matt Northe combined to set up Tipungwuti for a crucial goal.
Jack Johnstone cleverly exploited a mistake by the Rebels which inspired his teammates to up the ante, and the team worked hard to shut down the Rebels’ avenues to goal and move the ball into their forward 50 metres.
The Power dominated most of the quarter; however, it did not show on the scoreboard.
Final scores, North Ballarat Rebels 8. 9.57 defeated Loy Yang B Gippsland Power 4.4.28.
The goal kickers were Simon Deery, Tom Muir, Anthony Tipungwuti and Jack Johnstone who scored one each.
The Power have to get back to the basics that have been so important to them this year. Despite the loss there are positives to take from the game including that they had more inside 50s than the Rebels, indicating a better use of scoring opportunities may have scored them a win.
However, what let the Power down on Saturday was their failure to play one-on-one.
This Saturday the Power takes on the Bendigo Pioneers at Oakleigh.
On paper this looks to be a winnable game for the Power, but the Pioneers have the work rate to exploit any slackness from the Power boys.
Stevens will stress the need to learn from losses, but has total faith in the boys and what they are capable of after working with them so far this season.