Loy Yang B Gippsland Power’s stunning start against Geelong Falcons was not enough to topple the league leaders, who went on the record a 24-point victory in round 13 of the TAC Cup.
The Power kicked four goals to two in the opening term, but then disappeared for the remainder of the game, kicking only two more goals to the Falcons’ eight.
Despite their hard work across the ground, the Power’s ineffective forward 50-metre entries, which has been an ongoing issue in recent games, cost them dearly.
Gippsland had 17 more opportunities than the Falcons for the match, but only scored two goals from 38 forward 50 entries in the last three terms.
The Falcons scored eight goals from 23 entries during the same time period.
Ruckman Jack Leslie and winger Lukas Webb returned to the line-up, while Traralgon’s Connor Ambler made his debut, despite being an under 16 player.
However, the Power were without Jordie Cunico, Mitch Mustoe and Alex Saunders due to injury and captain, Josh Cashman, who was a late withdrawal.
This allowed Jack Hammond to return to the team.
It was the Power who took the early initiative when Leslie intercepted the ball to kick a fine goal.
It was tight football all over the field early on and the Falcons hit back after capitalising on a Power turnover.
An Alex Carr ‘long bomb’ was cleverly marked and converted by Declan Keilty, but another Power mistake allowed the Falcons to hit back far too easily.
With the pressure on, Ambler tackled fiercely and goaled with his first kick from the resultant free kick.
Webb then followed suit after winning another free and receiving a 50m penalty after some intelligent work from Tom Muir.
By the end of the quarter the Power led by 11 points after shutting down the Falcon’s ability to get their dangerous game plan going.
The second quarter opened with both sides contesting ferociously across the ground and scoring was almost impossible.
A poor defensive decision by the Power allowed the Falcons to break the deadlock and they then capitalised on another skill error to seize the initiative.
It took a typically clever interception by Liam Nash to set up Carr to give the Power a one-point lead by the end of the term.
Late in the quarter the Power got back on track to stem the Falcons’ ability to get the ball moving and minimise the unnecessary turnovers that were costly earlier in the term.
The Falcons took the early initiative in the all-important third quarter with a goal after both sides had worked hard to stop each other from scoring.
Things got worse for the Power when another poor defensive decision gifted the Falcons with another easy goal.
For the rest of the quarter the Power went into attack, but either missed easy chances or turned the ball to frequently.
Some great forward pressure by Keilty gave Wes Russell a major to level the scores going into the final term.
This was a reasonable effort by the Power, but closer analysis showed they had thrown a deserved winning chance into the wind.
Gippsland’s ineffective ball use going forward resulted in only one goal from 17 forward 50m forays, and while deplorable at any level of football, this was suicidal against a top team like the Falcons.
The fact Geelong was let off by the Power’s wastefulness of hard-won opportunities was highlighted when the kicked the first goal after some ill-disciplined manning up on the rebound.
For the first time in the game the Falcons were able to get their running game going and they kicked three more unanswered goals.
In stark contrast, the Power again squandered many chances to get back into the game.
Again, the statistics said it all, with the Falcons scoring four goals from their six entries up forward and the Power were goalless from 11 such opportunities.
The Power has the week off before taking on the Eastern Ranges at Morwell.
This again is a vital match for the Power and gives Stevens the chance again to challenge the boys to improve their use of the ball where it matters most, the forward 50-zone.