GIPPSLAND POWER’S “magical mystery tour” through the 2015 TAC Cup season took another odd turn when it lost by one point against a well-respected Geelong Falcons side in Bendigo on Saturday.
As has become a common theme for Power teams over the past 10 seasons, the visitor opened the match by putting the Falcons on the back foot from the opening bounce and fiercely contested every issue.
Some typically hard-nosed forward pressure allowed the Power to kick the first major courtesy of some clean work by Tom Papley.
Falcons replied from the resultant centre bounce and the match became a tough arm wrestle again.
After almost 10 minutes without a goal by either side Falcons broke the deadlock and the Power hit back hard but could not capitalise on their efforts in attack.
It took a brilliant, snapped goal by Matt De Bruin to give the Power a narrow lead late in the term but Falcons managed to score from a set shot after the siren to go to the first break three points up.
Dominating the count for tackles and forward 50 entries, the Power would have been disappointed to trail.
The second term was another gritty affair, with both teams’ defences working overtime as Falcon’s took their turn wasting relatively easy scoring opportunities.
The Power was similarly wasteful and did not get on the scoreboard until the last seconds of the second term when Papley’s good work allowed Brad Olsson to goal and tie the scores on a miserly 22 points each.
Power’s pressure continued early in the third term and the defence minimised Falcons’ chances to score.
It was another story at the scoring end, when for about 20 minutes Power could not buy a goal.
It took some smart link-ups between Ryan Hearn, Nash Holmes, Nick Argento and Christian Buykx-Smith to find Harrison McKay on the goal line at long last.
Falcons made the Power pay for lacklustre finishing by goaling just before the siren.
The Power led by five at the end of the third quarter but could have been five goals up after kicking 1.7 (13) from 11 forward 50 entries.
More opportunities went begging for Power in the fourth, and Falcons hit back with a goal.
The Power then went quick, long and direct into attack through Deven Costigan, Tyler Hillier and McKay to set up Cory Stockdale for a critical goal.
Things looked better still when some more grit and determination resulted in another major for the side.
Falcons then capitalised on a 50 metre penalty to reduce the margin to one goal and once again the match was up for grabs.
With minutes to go the host seized the initiative, scoring a long bomb from outside the 50 metre arc after more inefficient ball use in the Power forward line.
Once again the Power hit back as Holmes hit McKay on a strong lead and he gave the Power a four-point buffer with just minutes to play.
A gettable goal sailed through for a Power behind, leaving the door open for Falcons, who took full advantage to boot a late major and win by one.
The loss of state squad members will impact Power’s structures in the coming matches, starting with the Anzac Day match against the Northern Knights at Morwell.