LOY Yang B Gippsland Power went into its TAC Cup clash against highly rated Sandringham Dragons with injury and VFL commitments forcing several changes, but kept their momentum going with a solid win.
Debutants Doug Grining, Brett Waddell and Ash Di Ciero took to the field with Ben Kearns back at Casey, while Jake Thomas and Alex Saunders were missing due to minor injuries.
Former Power and current AFL players Dyson Heppell and Nick Graham were on hand for moral support at Preston Oval.
A strong wind toward the city end of the ground made scoring to the Cramer street end difficult.
With the wind at their back in the first, Power had the ball in their forward 50 for much of the term and Josh Scott opened the scoring after taking a strong contested mark.
First gamer Grining booted another major from a free kick but the Power wasted several scoring opportunities with poor finishing.
Eighteen forward 50 entries to the Dragons’ four saw Power take an 18-point lead to the first break.
Early in the second the Dragons had three goals on the board as Power’s lax marking hurt the visitor.
The Power continued to waste opportunities and it took another gem of a contested mark by Scott to stop the rot.
By the long break the Dragons led by six points but the Power had enjoyed four more scoring opportunities.
The Gippslanders opened the third term with a clever forward foray by Liam Nash providing Scott with a crucial goal, which he backed up with another shortly after.
Bottom-agers Bohdi Walker and Lukas Webb then combined with their silky skills for another before more long and direct play by Nash and Jordan Cunico allowed Scott to kick his fifth.
Alex Carr followed up with another major.
Excellent forward pressure allowed Aaron Heppell to kick an important goal and by the end of the term the Power led by 34.
The last quarter saw the Power apply intense pressure all over the ground and the Dragons struggled to get forward.
The Power did not kick a goal for the term but controlled the contest to win by 20.
Scott was again brilliant and repeatedly beat out multiple opponents in marking contests.
Webb, who will now return to play school football, was a key performer in his last game until late June.
Nate Paredes led the hard-nosed midfield combining bone-crunching tackles with great strength and the ability to use the ball with vision.
He had 10 tackles and applied the sort of pressure that effectively stopped the Dragons from playing flowing football.
Heppell also shut down important opponents and won key possessions himself.
Ruckman Jack Leslie dominated the rucking duels but, more importantly, was able to take many strong marks win grounded contests.
Bohdi Walker was asked to shut down his opponents by coach Nick Stevens and he responded magnificently.
Stevens described the result as an “ugly” win, underscored by the fact that Power could only kick three goals from 30 entries up forward in the first half while the Dragons had five from their 16 entries. To their credit they refocused in the second half and stopped the Dragons from flourishing, and more importantly made much better use of the ball when moving forward.
The Power will now prepare for another important game against the Western Jets at Morwell on Sunday.
It is likely that “Poombah” Saunders and Jake Thomas will be available for a near full-strength Power line up set to test itself against a Jets team which has been competitive this season.
Stevens will again work on “finetuning” the side’s ability to consistently follow the game plan and to eliminate the wastefulness that could have been costly against the Dragons.