AFTER a run of away games, the Loy Yang B Gippsland Power hosted the Western Jets in round 13 of the TAC Cup, to win by 56-points.
The ground was very wet underfoot following the rain on Friday night and the centre square was a bog.
Coach Nick Stevens knew this was a real “danger game” for the Power, with the Western Jets’ impressive form and the Power having so many changes to their line up.
With the national championships over, the Power were close to full strength with the return of their Vic Country representatives Tim Membrey, Nick Graham, Ben Kearns, Jack Leslie, Ryley Hall and Will Hams.
Before the game, Stevens emphasised the Jets were quick starters, and true to form they kicked the first goal of the game.
The start was scrappy with the slippery ball making it hard to get clean possessions.
Shannen Lange roved the pack with his usual hard-nosed attack and snapped the Power’s first goal, but the Jets answered straight away with another and were in control of the play.
The Power were second to the contest, not manning up and turning the ball over, but fortunately the Jets’ inaccurate kicking kept the Power in the game.
Down by 10 points at quarter time, Stevens delivered a classic spray, furious that his players had not done anything the coaches highlighted pre-match, such as maintaining intensity.
The Power responded in the second quarter with a noticeable increase in effort, the backline stood up under pressure and the tackling intensity all around the ground lifted. Stevens brought Membrey into the midfield and pushed Ben Kearns forward, the move reaping rewards instantly as Matt Northe found Kearns all alone 30 metres out, Kearns slotting it through for the first of the quarter.
Aaron Heppell’s trademark attack at the football was on show, as he changed the momentum of the game with his attack and run.
Great hands from Daniel Jackson set Jarryd Drew up for the second goal of the quarter and the Power hit the front; but it was short lived, as the Jets answered with a quick goal.
Josh Scott took an outstretched mark on the goal line and converted from in front right before the half time siren, sending the Power into the break just two points up.
Stevens was pleased his players had responded with a better effort, but knew they were capable of so much more, and said he thought they were running at 85 percent.
The Jets started the second half with the first goal and it was game on.
The Power’s running game started to click, doing away with the excessive handballing of the first quarter.
Ben Kearns kicked his second goal as the ball slid out the back of the pack, then a brilliant run through the midfield and great hands from Lachie Channing set Hams up for a classic running goal.
It seemed the Power were in control of the match, but the Jets were putting up a fight, answering with an easy goal of their own.
The run from the midfield enabled the Power to get better delivery to targets inside 50 metres, with Membrey, Graham and Darcy Irwin all kicking goals in the five minutes before three quarter time, sending the Power into the break 24-points in front.
In the final quarter the Power played hard, attacking football that was a delight to spectators.
Strong team work from the Power allowed them to run the ball out of defence and work it into their forward 50 metres.
Darcy Irvin kicked his second goal, and Kearns kicked two goals in five minutes.
The Jets responded with a huge goal from 50 metres, but the Power were starting to win clearances with ease and run away with the game.
Forward pressure from Channing forced a turnover, Channing hitting Northe on the chest which allowed him to convert.
Membrey put through the Power’s fifth goal of the quarter before the Jets stopped the run with a strong mark and goal.
It would be the Jets’ last goal for the game as the Power went on to kick another three unanswered goals to make it an eight-goal quarter.
Stevens was pleased with how the boys ran out the game, but had concerns regarding the slow starts that are dogging the Power.
With only four games left before the finals, players and coaching staff know they cannot let poor starts occur during finals time as they will be costly.
Next weekend the Power have a bye.
After a well deserved rest, Power will face the Oakleigh Chargers at home.