THE 2013 TAC Cup season is over for Loy Yang B Gippsland Power after an inglorious loss to Northern Knights in yesterday’s elimination final at Visy Park.
Two key statistics underlined the Knights’ victory; they had 24 more forward 50 entries than the Power, and were on the receiving end of 24 more free kicks.
The Power went into the match well below full strength with Tom Muir, Declan Keilty, Josh Scott and Nate Paredes on the injured list along with several other important contributors.
Slippery small forward Alex Saunders returned from a facial injury while the sides’ hardest on baller, Liam Nash, overcame a leg injury and played.
The Knights took the early initiative and should have led comprehensively but for inaccuracy.
They finally broke the drought with two simple goals on the rebound and it took some clever work by Alex Carr and Ash di Ciero to allow the former to slot a vital major late in the quarter to trail by nine at the break.
It was deja vu early in the second term as the Knights again scored easy goals after errors by the Power.
Two goals from Jordan Cunico restored some respectability to the score line but the Knights weathered the storm with one of their own, before kicking two more on the rebound.
The Power went into the long break more than four goals down and fuming over some contentious decisions that went against it.
The Knights opened scoring in the third but the Power persisted and Saunders scored a great goal after some great forward pressure by his teammates.
A possession from the resulting centre bounce saw Carr kick a screamer from outside 50, but some dodgy defensive decisions by the Power allowed the Knights to kick away to a lead of five goals.
A difference of 14 free kicks in the Knights’ favour had proved a thorn in the Powers’ side, and the whistle continued to blow against it as the Knights kicked four straight to start the final term.
The Power rallied with typical determination and Aaron Heppell goaled on the run.
Inspired, Liam Nash intercepted brilliantly and crafted a great goal to stay in the match.
The Knights finally put the issue beyond doubt with two late goals to win by 58.
Captain Josh Cashman stepped up and led by stellar example.
He defeated several dangerous opponents with disciplined and rugged defence and backed his judgement to win possessions and make effective disposals.
Fellow defender Mitch Mustoe took on and soundly defeated much taller opponents with strength and unselfish play.
He won contests in the air and had the pace, skill and confidence to win the ball at ground level.
Aaron Heppell was another of the side’s natural leaders who did a fine job in the midfield and consistently pressured the Knights’ playmakers. Tall defender Christian Buykx-Smith responded to a strong challenge and stuck to the disciplined things in the tight situations.
He backed himself to win possessions and rarely wasted them.
The club will now work on its 2014 season development program with the under 15 and 16 squads beginning their restricted preparations in November, while one of the Powers’ best ever under 18 units will be back to business at the same time.