Football | TAC CUP
A STELLAR start from Gippsland Power was not enough to hold back TAC Cup ladder leaders North Ballarat Rebels, who snuck home by 13 points on Saturday.
Gippsland coach Leigh Brown made just one change to the team that defeated Queensland by one point last round.
Sale’s Charlie Walsh came into the side after impressing with his development during the challenging pre-season process.
It did not take the Power long to realise the Rebels were a top side as they made it clear from the opening bounce they were ready to exploit any deficiencies in Gippsland’s commitment to the team plan.
The Power applied their brand of extreme pressure to the Rebels.
North Ballarat limited their ability to get the ball out into the open using players waiting ahead of the play.
Intensity applied by Sam Skinner and Todd Beck allowed Harrison McKay to open the scoring with a great team goal.
From the resulting centre bounce, Skinner was again vital in setting up Connor Ambler for the second major.
A goal by Tom Papley from outside the 50-metre line gave the Power a commanding 17-point lead heading into the first change.
The Rebels took full advantage of a defensive howler early in the second quarter to kick their first goal.
Gippsland quickly got back on track and had the Rebels struggling to find their highly potent flow.
After intense pressure, Papley finished off some great work with another long goal.
The Rebels worked hard to find deficiencies in the Power’s levels of application but were consistently kept on the back foot.
Ethan Park and Jackson McMahon combined well under pressure to enable Tate Marsh to restore the Power’s three goal lead.
Some more of this extremely intensive play was used by Nash Holmes and Dylan Proctor to find McKay who then kicked his second goal.
In the dying minutes of the second quarter the Rebels finally broke free of the Power’s grip to score a vital rebound goal, reducing the lead at the long break to 22 points.
Throughout the season, the Power has struggled during the third quarter to maintain focus and to build on first half achievements.
The Rebels stayed on task kicking the first goal of the second half.
The Power replied quickly when Holmes again did some inspirational work to allow Papley to kick another goal from outside the 50m line.
Both sides then upped the defensive, but on the 15-minute mark the Rebels kicked three unanswered goals to put themselves right back into the contest.
Several key Power players were too content to play attacking football and did not apply the same intensity to get back on their opponents after turnovers.
As a consequence, the Rebels made the Power look second rate and it took a piece of individual brilliance by Brad Olsson to put the ball into a dangerous position and Papley again used the chance to kick another long goal late in the quarter.
Another terrible defensive decision gifted the Rebels with a goal late in the quarter reducing the Power’s lead to four points, but more importantly, gave them the crucial momentum going into the last term.
This interpretation then became a fact when the Rebels again used a Power turnover to score a morale-boosting running goal.
Again it took the individual skill of Olsson to attack the ball and then run and kick the longest goal of the match.
The Power were wasting easy chances to put the issue beyond doubt and it this would prove costly.
The Power’s inability to find their opponents once there was a turnover was punished with increasing ease and the Rebels again scored three unanswered goals in the dying minutes of the quarter.
The Rebels recorded a 14-point victory, but for much of the match the Power had been in control and had the opportunity to put it beyond issue with some simple application of the game plan that Brown had developed for the match.
The Power next meets Calder Cannons at Morwell Recreation Reserve at 1pm on Satuday, 30 May.