Powerful final act



GIPPSLAND Power gave a glimpse of its enormous potential in the final game of the TAC Cup season, knocking off the third-placed Western Jets.

The Power went into the match with close to its best side as highly-rated young ruckman, Ryan Hearn, returned after missing much of the season due to a nagging knee injury.

The Jets were also near full strength and ready to secure a top four finish for the first time since the inception of the competition in 1992.

In good conditions at Morwell the Power responded to coach Leigh Brown’s call for a fierce contest with some outstanding forward pressure that resulted in the opening goal to Jordan Cunico.

More disciplined, hard-nosed football saw Nick Argento create an opportunity for Sam Skinner to add another major.

Ominously the Jets hit back on the rebound but the Power upped their work rate in the contested issues to stay ahead.

More outstanding forward pressure resulted in a goal to Declan Keilty and, late in the term, the Power had the Jets well and truly on the back foot.

However, the Jets slammed on four unanswered goals, punishing overuse of handballs, to go to the first change 14 points up.

The Power opened the second quarter with Ben Dessent, Thomas Wilson and Todd Beck on fire, delivering to Josh Patullo who marked well and goaled.

Nash Holmes snapped cleverly to put them right back in the game.

Skinner used a hard-won ball with great accuracy and penetration and Tom Papley used his skills to telling effect to give the Power the lead again.

As had happened in the first term, the Jets responded with three more unanswered goals.

Keilty converted a contested mark into a major and reduced the Jets’ lead to nine points by the long break.

The Jets scored the opening goal of the third term on the rebound, before Holmes snapped his second major.

Once again the Power had the initiative and Papley, Tate Marsh and Keilty combined to set up Skinner for another goal.

The Jets upped the ante at the end of the term and again banged through unanswered goals after poor decision making by the Power.

Facing an 18-point deficit at three-quarter-time, captain Alex Carr used his long and accurate kicking to full effect and Josh Dunkley roved the pack to snap a fine goal to begin the fourth.

A strong centre clearance by Lukas Webb created an opportunity for Patullo and he took a strong contested mark and kicked truly.

With the game now in the balance, the Jets again exploited some soft Power defence but Carr went long and Dunkley did it again with another nice snap.

The Power was applying intense pressure in every contest and diminutive forward, Jake Smith, set up his fellow small Argento to put the Power right back in the game.

Once again the Jets reclaimed the initiative after a miraculous goal from the 50 metre line and extended the lead with a rebound goal with only minutes to go. However, Patullo set up Papley with a combination of strength and delicate skill, followed by a Dunkley major, to bring the Power within a kick of an unlikely triumph.

With the game up for grabs the Power again went long and direct via the boot of Cunico and Papley kicked another major to give the Power a six-point lead.

In the final minutes of the game the Jets threw everything at the Power and came within a few points in the last minute.

The Power’s grim determination saw it cling to a two-point win, 16.7 (103) to 15.11 (101).

With the season now at an end for the Power, 2015 looks a bright prospect.

Eighteen of the 2014 list of 39 will be available again in 2015 and the majority have gained valuable experience at the top level.

With several outstanding under 16s, such as Ben Ainsworth, Kade Renooy, Jake and Keenan Hughes, Nick Mulqueen, Tom Sabell, Brad Dessent, Jesse Collins and Will Leslie, coming through, Power looks set for a big season.

The Power finished 11th on the TAC Cup ladder.