Loy Yang B Gippsland Power’s aspirations of taking the 2012 TAC Cup minor premiership hit a hurdle when it fell short by 11 points against the Sandringham Dragons on Saturday.
After taking control at half-time against the Dragons, the Power played some of their worst football of the season in the second half.
The Power went into the game with players Wil Hams and Jack Johnstone back from minor injuries, but were still without contributors Simon Deery and Josh Cashman.
In contrast, the Dragons were back to full strength after most of their stars returned from school football commitments.
Some good team-oriented play early in the game by Ben Kearns and Daniel Jackson set up Nick Graham to open the scoring for the Power.
Tom Muir then unselfishly set up Shannen Lange for another and it looked as if the Power had the Dragons’ measure with their trademark hardness in the contested issues.
Thanks to some more good contested work, Liam Nash gave Lachie Channing another important major and then both sides upped the ante to make it hard to get any cohesive passages of play going.
The Dragons wasted several forward 50 metre forays with inaccuracy and by the end of the term the Power led by 14 points.
In the opening moments of the second quarter the Power made too many poor decisions and after 10 minutes of play the Dragons scored the first major of the term.
The Power broke a 30-minute dry spell when Kearns snapped a goal and then Lange kicked his second after some clever work at the base of a pack.
In the closing stages of the quarter the Dragons scored another goal after some very unaccountable play by the Power and reduced their led to 14 points by the long break.
Despite dominating key statistical areas, including forward 50m entries, the Power were being outplayed by the Dragons’ ability to convert their opportunities.
If the second term was unconvincing for the Power, their third quarter was abysmal.
The Power allowed the Dragons to take total control of much of the play.
It was the Power who kicked the first goal of the term through good work by Anthony Tipungwuti and Channing to allow Tim Membrey to seemingly give the Power the vital early initiative.
For the rest of the quarter the Dragons made the Power look second rate and continually exploited the Power’s inability to play committed team football.
They easily kicked four unanswered majors to enter the final break six points ahead.
Some improved forward pressure allowed Muir to set up Jackson to score a crucial goal for the Power and get themselves back into the contest.
A poor umpiring decision gifted the Dragons with a crucial goal and then they put the issue beyond doubt after being allowed to set up a goal with easy rebound play.
By the final siren the margin was 11 points, but the damage done to the Power’s confidence seemed much greater.
The Power dominated the critical area of forward 50 entries, almost doubling the Dragons’ total.
However, they were unable to effectively convert these chances and were outplayed by the Dragons.
They had 12 scoring conversions from almost 60 entries, where the Dragons managed 18 scores from 34 ventures forward.
The Power also failed to apply consistent pressure once the Dragons won possession.
In most games this too has been a strength for the Power, but the Dragons were able to find loose players on turnovers and setup soft scoring opportunities as a result.
The Power next meets the Northern Knights on Saturday at Ted Summerton Reserve from 1pm.