WONTHAGGI Power cemented its place in the top five with a convincing win over Drouin in a high class and entertaining game in front of a large crowd.
Conditions were perfect and with brilliant sunshine the scene was set for a great day of football.
This was a real pressure game in the lead up to the finals.
Drouin a young, developing side were still in the race for the finals and had to win this one to remain alive.
They would go into the game confidently having beaten Power by a point when they last met earlier in the season.
The game started at a rapid pace and Power scored the first goal through Michael Kelly scouting the pack.
Toma Huther took a big mark and got Power’s second goal in a perfect start for the home side.
Kelly, Nat Jones, Aiden Lindsay and Kane McCarthy were damaging around the packs in what was already shaping up as an even contest.
Drouin coach, experienced ruckman Bob McCallum was shaping up as a major hurdle with his strong work in the ruck and leadership around the ground. On-ballers Luke Duffy, Liam Anderson, Daniel Nicholl, Fraser Broderick and Jordan Edwards were working hard against a fired-up home side.
A free kick to Sam Proctor gave Drouin their first goal but Power responded immediately with a goal from Adam Cook who was presenting strongly across half forward.
Up forward for Drouin Ben Hughes was also a big target and this was putting real pressure on the Power back men, led well by Matt Coyne, Shannon Bray, Ben Eddy and Jarrod Membrey.
Brod Fraser for Drouin added another goal to bring his team closer.
Cook marked strongly in the pack and goaled to get one back for Wonthaggi but another free saw Daniel Nicholls score another for the visitors on the siren.
The game was living up to expectations and the crowd was warming to the fierceness of the contest.
Troy Harley got the first goal to start off the second quarter following a very strong mark.
Chris Wylie in the ruck was doing well in what was shaping up as a terrific ruck battle. Drouin goaled through Hughes and again his team was edging closer.
The strong tackling of both sides was a feature of this high standard game.
Kane McCarthy who was playing solidly around the ground got a much needed goal for Wonthaggi and Cook followed up with another.
Hughes responded almost immediately with one of his own but again Cook who was having a great game goaled after the siren to give the home side a handy 18 point lead at the big break.
Power have learnt more than once that Drouin is a side that will continue to come back hard and today would be no different.
The first goal went to Drouin’s Hughes from another free kick to start the third quarter.
It was Wonthaggi that was now feeling the pinch and they needed to lift. Jordan Edwards goaled to bring Drouin closer and they were taking control of the game.
McCallum goaled and Hughes scored another to bring them within a point.
A much needed goal to Andrew Murray after a series of sensational handballs lifted Wonthaggi and then Travis Krause was rewarded for his hard work with another goal to swing the game back Power’s way.
A long goal to Nathan Jones was followed by another to Krause and Wonthaggi had absorbed the pressure and was again drawing away.
Murray to Cook was exceptional football and another goal resulted to give the home side a handy four goal lead.
Hughes got one on the siren to keep the contest live.
The game was still in the balance though and Drouin were not going home without a fight.
Yet another free gave them a goal and they followed with another soon after to reduce the lead to only eight points.
But Wonthaggi, as they had done all day, lifted under pressure and found Cook again for his sixth.
Chris Wylie, who had been more than serviceable all day in the ruck, had a real purple patch up forward taking two telling marks and scoring two important goals. Nat Jones chipped in for another and Riley Lindsay got into the action to score another.
Wonthaggi had drawn away on the scoreboard and were finishing the game very strongly.
The game was played in good spirit and was another high standard contest, typical of the close matches in the Gippsland League.
While Drouin has bowed out of finals contention, the battle for a place in the top five continues with Sale and Morwell still in the running. Next week Wonthaggi take the long trip to Bairnsdale.