Gippsland Power 9.8 (62)
Oakleigh Chargers 8.17 (65)
FOR the second week running Gippsland Power relinquished a late lead to lose by less than a kick in round 13 of the TAC Cup against Oakleigh Chargers.
The return of four members of the under 18 national champion Victoria Country side, Christian Bukyx-Smith, Nash Holmes, Harry McKay and All-Australian selection Ben Ainsworth, meant the Power was closer to full strength though still missing players to VFL duties and injury.
Tom Papley and Josh Dunkley played their second matches for Casey Scorpions and Richmond respectively, while the seriously injured Sam Skinner, Tate Marsh and Ryan Hearn were unavailable.
Aloysio Ferreira, Connor Ambler, Jari McDonald, Kieran Beyers and Darnell Grech joined them on the sidelines, all nursing minor injuries.
The Power brought in Koo Wee Rup youngster Nathan Voss for his TAC Cup debut to cover the losses.
Both sides found it difficult to win easy possessions early until a long kick into the forward line by Jai Rout set up the Power’s first real scoring opportunity.
McKay then linked up with Jackson McMahon and a fine goal resulted.
The Chargers seized the initiative from the resultant centre bounce and scored again after some poor defence by the Power.
Holmes put the ball in a dangerous position and Ainsworth took a spectacular mark before creating a chance for McMahon to kick a vital goal.
Late in the term the Chargers kicked a goal after seven points straight and went to the first change 14 points up.
Oakleigh scored a simple goal from the opening bounce of the second term, but Power replied when Charlie Walsh put the ball into the forward line and Tom Hobbs kicked true from a free.
A Holmes major after the half-time siren reduced the Chargers’ lead to two points by the main break.
It was hard to score in the third quarter, but the Chargers broke the drought after seven minutes with a clever snap from the pocket.
The Power’s traditional hardness in tight situations plus some disciplined defence saw it fight back and draw within a point by the last change.
Oakleigh opened the scoring in the last quarter but Holmes and Kade Renooy withstood intense pressure to combine for a crucial major.
Against the run of play, the Chargers managed an easy goal but, some wonderful vision and skill by Dylan Proctor set up Matt DeBruin to again put the Power within one kick.
With minutes to go, some hard and purposeful work by Ethan Park created the chance for Proctor to give the Power the lead.
In a stunning repeat of the Eastern Ranges game, the Power conceded late to go down by three points.