LOY Yang B Gippsland Power exhibited two vastly different brands of football on either side of half-time against Eastern Ranges at the weekend, when a meek first half cost it the match.
Gippsland allowed the Ranges to dictate terms in the first half and used Power’s own game plan to dominate the match.
After being challenged by coach Nick Stevens to return to their determined and team-oriented approach at half-time, Power controlled play in the second half but could not claw back a healthy Ranges lead.
Ranges slammed on seven unanswered goals in the first quarter, exposing glaring weaknesses in the Power’s application.
The previously strong Power midfield was made to look feeble by the disciplined Ranges boys and in turn the Power defence was under intense pressure to stem the continuous flow from the centre of the ground.
The Ranges had twice as many forward 50 entries as Gippsland, who was put to the sword for the first time in 2013.
Ranges continued to dominate in the second term, before Power stopped the flow of morale-sapping goals and began to provide its own forward line with opportunities.
Josh Scott was able to craft a vital goal late, but by half-time his side trailed by 57 points and the game appeared to be over.
Ranges scored the opening goal of the third quarter but Power dug deep and Alex Carr snapped a critical goal.
Some more productive team work by Ben Kearns resulted in another goal to Ed Morris, but the resultant centre bounce saw the Ranges kick an easy goal.
First gamer Brandon Bailley kicked a fine goal on the back of strong Power pressure, and Scott created another for Adam Diamond soon after.
Kearns kicked a long bomb late in the term to bring Power within 39 points at three-quarter-time.
Gippsland dominated forward 50 entries for the term and the tackles count, and their momentum continued in the fourth when Jordan Cunico booted a long goal early in the term.
Forward pressure allowed Alex Saunders to snap a goal to close the gap, but Ranges hit back with a vital goal against the run of play.
Power responded through Kearns, but with time slipping away the Ranges scored an easy reply and kicked another from a free kick.
Kearns kicked two hard-nosed individual goals created by his own forward pressure, but the clock counted out Power’s challenge.
On a day when the ruckmen faced strong opposition, Jack Leslie played well in the aerial duels.
He underlined his versatility by moving into a key defensive position and quelling the impact of the competition’s most challenging forward.
The other Power ruckman, Jake Thomas, was also a significant contributor with his dominance of ruck duels and tenacity at ground level.
Power now faces the Murray Bushrangers at Highgate arena this weekend and, despite their relative ladder positions, it represents a great challenge for Stevens’ team.