For almost three-and-a-half quarters, Loy Yang B Gippsland Power was on the cusp of victory against a highly rated Geelong Falcons outfit in Bendigo.
However, a frenetic final 10 minutes saw the Falcons boot six unanswered goals to escape with a remarkable 17.12 (114) to 11.13 (79) triumph.
Both sides went into the match without key players, with the Power missing Liam Nash and Christian Buykx-Smith due to injury while the Falcons had two of their best on duty in Europe with the AIS/AFL Academy.
Bairnsdale’s Ben Timms was called up and the Power appeared to have the depth required to challenge the Falcons, however the visitor stuttered early and conceded two soft goals.
It took some direct forward play for Jordan Cunico and great mate Michael Jacobsen to combine to put the Power back on track before some typical Power forward pressure saw Brad Olsson set up Lukas Webb for a second major.
The Falcons regained the lead on the rebound from a Power turnover, but some great ball use by Cunico and Tom Papley allowed Lincoln Robinson to score a vital goal at the other end.
Newborough local Sam Skinner helped Jacobsen score his second for the term, but the Falcons hit back late to reduce the margin to one-point at the change.
The Falcons were gifted a soft goal to open the second quarter, and it took a strong piece of individual play by Cunico to restore the Power’s lead.
Some long and direct ball use by Nathan Dennison set Nick Argento up to score a fine rover’s goal off the pack.
Despite trading goals before the break, the Power carried a seven-point lead into half-time.
A no-nonsense Josh Dunkley disposal and creative crumbing by Webb helped the Power extend its narrow lead in the third.
The Falcons broke a 10 minute deadlock after another Power turnover, but Cunico and Webb combined to restore the advantage with some clever ball use.
A 50 metre penalty gave the Falcons a vital goal late but Aloysio Ferreria took advantage of his own 50 to give Power a 13-point lead at the last change.
With the match up for grabs, the Falcons opened the term with a major and Power compounded its woes by missing easy shots up forward.
The Falcons made the most of the reprieve, kicking a pair of goals on the trot.
Some more productive ball use by Argento and Webb resulted in Cunico’s third, but it was only a temporary lull in the Falcons’ run.
Geelong slammed on six more unanswered goals as the Power was caught out on the rebound.
The TAC Cup now has a bye over the Easter break.
The Power next plays Sandringham Dragons at Morwell on 26 April.
After a slow start to the season due to a recovery from injury, Declan Keilty took on the responsibility to be a central figure in defence and did a fine job, soundly beating key Falcons forwards.
He not only took them out of the game, but also won many vital possessions.
On a day when the Power wasted scoring opportunities, Jordan Cunico was at his potent best.
His ability to finish off build up work and his reading of the play set several attacking moves in motion.
After making a stunning TAC Cup debut in round two, James Jacobsen continued his excellent form with another impressive defensive display.
He negated the influence of dangerous opponents and won many important contests himself.
Fellow defender Mitchell Stanlake was another to respond to the challenge.
He backed his judgement and skill to win the ball and made great use of it out of the backline.
In his third game of TAC Cup football Nick Argento showed his class in a disciplined, team oriented display.
He read the play well and never wasted his hard-won possessions.
Linclon Robinson is another bottom-age player who has impressed this season.
He was effective all over the ground and responded to coach Leigh Brown’s choice to use him in defence, attack and on the ball.