RIDING the high of its stunning comeback victory over North Ballarat, Gippsland Power made another stride toward the TAC Cup finals series with a 51-point win over Sandringham at Morwell.
Captain Josh Dunkley returned after a series of games with the Richmond reserves, along with midfielder Tate Marsh who missed nearly half the season due to a stress fracture.
Replacing Marsh on the sidelines was hard man Nash Holmes due to a two-week suspension and Aloysio Ferreira who pulled out with a sudden illness too late to be replaced.
In perfect conditions at Morwell, the Power opened the game well, constantly inside their scoring area, however were unable to take advantage on the scoreboard for the first 10 minutes. It took a long goal from outside the 50 metre mark by Matt De Bruin to break the run of wasted opportunities, but the Dragons hit back quickly with two goals.
Some outstanding forward pressure by the Power was rewarded with a free kick to Tyler Hillier and he took full advantage of his opportunity.
The Power again went into attack without converting and was punished by two goals by the Dragon late in the term.
Although they trailed by nine at the end of the quarter, almost every statistic favoured the home side.
Fifteen forward 50 entries had only resulted in two goals for the Power while the Dragons scored four majors from 11 entries.
The start of the second term saw De Bruin go long and direct allowing Jackson McMahon to capitalise.
Some more great pressure in contests allowed Darnell Grech to feed Anthony Taylor a sausage roll.
The Dragons then capitalised on some indecisive defence with a soft goal, before Harry McKay and Grech combined to regain the Power’s lead.
Another defensive error gave the Dragons an easy major but Linc Robinson answered brilliantly with a stunning six pointer from deep on the boundary.
Another good piece of forward play by Kade Renooy put the ball in the hotspot and Hillier again roved the pack cleverly to kick his second goal.
A long clearance from the resulting centre bounce allowed Hillier to become provider and Taylor was at the base of the pack to boot his second for the term.
By the long break the Power had a 13-point lead with an improved six goals from 13 entries. The trend continued in the third term, with Power building a lead of 34 points by the final change.
In the opening minutes of the last term the Dragons really punished some indecisive Power defence.
Josh Patullo steadied the ship through an attacking kick, allowing Tom Hobbs to win the ball and kick a long goal.
In one of the best pieces of individual skill in the competition for the year, De Bruin grabbed a fine mark, took on opponents with his pace, ran over 100 metres and kicked a stunning goal from the forward pocket.
From the resultant centre bounce a long clearance found Patullo and he kicked truly.
The Power continued to bombard the goals to extend the margin to 51 by the final siren.
Gippsland now has one game left in the regular season against the Northern Knights at Optus Oval.