Local stars shine representing region

Squad: Traralgon's Amber Schutte, Sale City's Ash Centra and Jas Sowden with Gippsland Power coach and Victoria Country assistant coach Nathan Boyd. Photograph supplied





IT’S now getting to the pointy end of the Coates Talent League season, just two rounds remain for Gippsland Power boys and girls.

In the coming two weeks, the 10th-placed boys face the Oakleigh Chargers (12th) and the Eastern Ranges (6th), while the 14th-placed girls are tasked with the Northern Knights (5th) and the Murray Bushrangers (17th).

As finals look unlikely for either team, focussing on their final two games is what will be looked at, as well as their form in the past month or so.

THE boys have continued to be unable to get a string of wins together all season.

Throughout the year, their form has proceeded like so: Win, Bye, Loss, L, B, B, W, L, W, B, L, W, L, W, W.

At the beginning of July in Round 12, the Power claimed their fourth win of the season, defeating the Dandenong Stingrays by 14 points.

In a complete performance Gippsland led at every change to close out a strong win against an equally-rated side.

Morwell’s Tew Jiath was given a mention in the best for his efforts off half-back, while Maffra’s Jett Killoran kicked two important goals.

The following week in Round 13, the Power succumbed to a tough Geelong Falcons outfit, going down by 38 points in Avalon.

Maffra’s Zach Felsbourg was mentioned in the best for Gippsland in the loss, while Jiath slotted in on the half-back line for the Team of the Week, racking up 26 disposals and eight marks.

Gippsland Power rejoined the winner’s list in Round 14 with a commanding 34-point win over the Northern Knights at home.

The Power survived a third quarter comeback from the Knights, holding onto a six point led before kicking six goals to one in the final term.

Draft hopefuls Archer Reid of Inverloch and Zane Duursma (Foster) led the way in front of the big sticks with six goals between them (Reid four, Duursma two), both making appearances in the best.

But, most recently, the Power claimed their first back-to-back wins of the season, in a statement-making 66-point win over the Bendigo Pioneers.

Duursma was easily best-on-ground with six goals in a midfield/forward role, while Morwell’s Ricky Mentha, along with Reid, kicked three each.

As we edge closer to the draft in November, players fancied by AFL clubs are becoming more apparent, yet as we all know, anything can happen on draft night.

Zane Duursma, brother of Port Adelaide’s Xavier, is the Power’s best draftee chance.

Duursma has been rated as a potential top-10 selection for most of the 2023 season, with a number of notable outings.

Others highly touted are Inverloch’s Archer Reid, brother of Essendon’s Zach, who has remained in the top 30 of draft power rankings.

Locals such as Jiath and Traralgon’s Cooper Brown, Harper Fox and William Brent have been prominent members of the Power squad, as well as bottom-age rising star Asher Eastham of Heyfield.

SINCE the start of the season, the goal of the Gippsland Power girls program was focussed around individual development.

This has remained the focus, with results on the field put on the back burner.

Having not won a game since Round 9, the hope in the girls’ camp is still yet to die off.

In Round 12 they suffered an agonisingly close encounter against the Northern Knights, going down by 14 points.

Although that doesn’t sound as close, the Power girls kept things close for most of the game, blasting ahead from the start.

Despite holding a 10-point lead at quarter time – keeping the Knights goalless – the Power only trailed by two points at both halftime and three quarter time.

But after being kept scoreless in the final term, the Knights kicked two goals to put some separation between the two sides.

Moe/Newborough’s Alisha Molesworth’s efforts earnt herself a place in the best, despite the result going against her and the Power.

The Power girls suffered another loss on the road, this time at the hands of Geelong Falcons by 25 points.

With the result not going their way, Traralgon’s Amber Schutte and Molesworth were standouts for Gippsland Power, it was Molesworth’s fourth best-on for the season.

Most recently, in Round 14, Gippsland Power girls simply weren’t good enough to keep up with the Eastern Ranges.

The Ranges took control of the game and did not give an inch until the game was beyond repair for the Power.

Power only managed a goal for the first three quarters, before kicking two more in the last, yet still losing the quarter, going down by 37 points.

Schutte was best-on once again, claiming back-to-back bests and racking up her fourth for the season.

WHILE we’re on the girls front, three Gippsland Power girls travelled with coach Nathan Boyd to Queensland to take part in the National Championships recently.

Schutte, along with Sale City’s Ash Centra and Jas Sowden, made their way to Queensland with the Victoria Country team, while Boyd tagged along as assistant coach.

For Victoria Country’s first game of the championships, they came up against a determined Queensland side, who were not easy-beats by any means.

Queensland put Vic Country to the sword early, turning a 14-point quarter time lead into 18 at the half – still within reach.

Things were blown out of proportion in the third term when Queensland kicked 5.1 (31) to 1.0 (6), extending their buffer out to 43 points with a quarter remaining.

Vic Country enjoyed some success in the final term, keeping Queensland goalless to drag the margin back to 30 points.

Centra was best-on for Vic Country kicking two goals, while Schutte was also commended in defeat.

Gippsland Power coach and Victoria Country assistant coach Nathan Boyd spoke on the defeat to Queensland.

“Ash (Centra), after missing a lot of the first quarter with a blood nose that wouldn’t stop was the most dangerous forward,” Boyd said.

Centra finished with 2.2 (14), five marks, and four inside 50s.

“(She) showed a little bit of class in a really hot game,” Boyd added.

“Amber (Schutte) was really consistent and showed great speed and drive from half-back, while being really consistent with her skills.

“(She) was able to attack the contest really physically. Probably one of our best on the day – finished with 13 disposals.”

Victoria Country resumes their championships journey this Saturday (August 12) against Victoria Metro, ahead of their final game against Western Australia on August 19.