GIPPSLAND Power’s bid for a second win of the season came up short after it was dealt a 37-point defeat at the hands of the North Ballarat Rebels on Saturday.
The Power recorded its first TAC Cup victory of the season against Northern Knights in the previous round and was looking to follow it up with another against the Rebels in round nine.
However, the fifth-placed side had other plans.
The Power and Rebels entered the match at Port Melbourne without their state representatives, meaning both sides were missing vital players.
The pressure was applied early by the Power, but the visitors struggled to convert this advantage on the scoreboard.
In contrast, the Rebels were able to score easy goals, often on the back of Power turnovers.
Late in the first quarter, the Power used the ball well through Austin Hodge, Changkouth Jiath and Nick Hogan to set up Deven Costigan for a goal.
The Rebels rebounded with a late goal to take a 13-point lead at the first change.
There was some cause for concern with the Power only converting one goal from 16 forward 50-metre entries.
The second quarter was more of the same with the Rebels capitalising on turnovers.
A great piece of team football from Hodge and Costigan was finished off by Josh Patullo, then Anthony Young applied some forward pressure to kick the Power’s second for the quarter.
Undeterred, the Rebels responded with two majors to enter the half-time break 24 points up, but there were some positives for Gippsland coach Leigh Brown to focus on.
A rock-solid Power defence allowed the Rebels to score just three goals in the second quarter, despite dominating the inside 50s stat.
Some disciplined and team-oriented defence was a major positive and gave the Power the belief it could walk away with the points.
However, the first six minutes of the third quarter blew that possibility out of the water.
The Rebels kicked four quick goals, but to the Power’s credit they regrouped and Hodge and Will Stephenson set up Patullo for his second goal.
A Power error gifted the Rebels with a reply but, from that point on, the Power upped the ante and dominated the rest of the term.
Hodge got the ball rolling with a long kick from the 50m line that found Jiath and Hogan.
They connected with Patullo who converted for his third major.
In the final minutes of the third quarter Ryan Hearn and Sean Masterton went long into the danger zone where Jai Rout roved the ball off the pack to reduce the Rebels’ lead to 33 points.
Brown would have been pleased with the Power’s opening minutes of the final term as it defended stoutly and stemmed the errors leading to turnovers, but still could not convert hard-won scoring opportunities.
It took the Rebels more than 15 minutes to break the Power defence’s resistance, but Hogan and Tate Marsh used the ball skilfully to set up Keenan Hughes for a morale boosting reply.
The Rebels kicked the final goal of the match to extend their winning margin to 37 points.
The majority of the Power players have a week off from TAC Cup duties fora development weekend.