BOOSTED by the inclusion of Aloysio Ferriera-Neto, back from Gippsland Power duties, and a couple of senior players, Wonthaggi Power went into their preliminary final match against Traralgon last Sunday with good hopes of causing an upset.
And they threatened to do just that with the scores only 10 points apart in a low-scoring affair at half time.
But, in the end, it was Traralgon which was able to hold on to a modest lead, built up in the third quarter, and go on to record an 18-point victory.
But there was a lot to like about the dour, defensive effort put in by Wonthaggi on the big stage.
It was just their inability to hold the ball in the scoring zone for long periods that left them in deficit in the end.
With the likes of Will Joplin, ‘Neto’, Tom Wells and Layton Membrey on the ball, Wonthaggi got the first centre break of the match but Traralgon quickly returned fire and kicked the first goal through lead-up forward James Appleford. He continued to be a danger man up forward throughout.
Despite the best efforts of Scott Butler, Jake Thomas and others; Traralgon had the next soon after through Jakota Rhode and looked like going right on with it when three Traralgon players linked up smoothly to have Appleford in good position again.
He missed badly and Wonthaggi responded with Neto, Thomas, Nathan Jones Leki Asa Leausa and others starting to get involved.
Finally it was Jones who opened the Power’s account after a strong mark and a tight struggle ensued front to back with both teams having their chances.
A goal by Matt Jones of Traralgon stretched the lead but a typically strong pack mark by Rod Tack, after good work by Zac Gilmour, brought up a goal just before the siren.
It was three goals to one at the first change but it could have been worse as Traralgon had most of the play.
Wonthaggi again attacked first after the restart, Joplin getting the better of Phillips in the ruck but again the Maroons’ defenders swept it away with ease and it was Jackson McMahon of Traralgon who scored the next goal.
Terrific defence by Tim Geyde was a goal saver and Traralgon had several more kickable chances before Power came to the party with goals to Tack and Ferreira-Neto to close the gap to 10 points at the change.
Traralgon still looked the team most likely to win but Wonthaggi Power was hanging in there, close enough to pounce.
It was in the third quarter that Power really needed to make some headway but unfortunately, in a rather scrambly affair, they could only manage one goal; an absolute ripper to Layton Membrey.
Some stupid free kicks developed the frustrations on both sides and Traralgon could easily have had more than two goals for their efforts.
There was still only 17 points in it at the last change, however while Wonthaggi again attacked first out of the middle, a shot by Neto went astray. Gilmour, Membrey, Tack, Ware, Hamilton in defence, and McCall were all working hard but the scores wouldn’t come and when Traralgon kicked the first of the last quarter through Marsh on the run, you felt it was the sealer.
Thomas and Neto got consolation goals in the run to the line but they never got quite close enough to raise excitement levels.
Final scores Wonthaggi: 7.8.50 lost to Traralgon: 9.10.64.