LEONGATHA is back on top of the Gippsland League ladder after a polished performance against Wonthaggi Power on Sunday.
The Parrots were simply too quick on the ground and strong in the air, once they got going halfway through the first quarter.
The first 10 minutes of the match belonged to Wonthaggi.
The Power applied immense pressure which prompted uncharacteristic errors from the home side on a still, sunny afternoon at Parrot Park.
The Parrots couldn’t get the ball forward, and while Wonthaggi could, they couldn’t kick goals.
Dom O’Connor provided an excellent target across half forward but didn’t convert.
Numerous other chances went begging as Leongatha’s turnovers continued.
A Parrot kick out from full back pinpointed Wonthaggi’s Tom Davey and he eventually kicked the first goal of the match.
It took a ripper from Jack Ginnane to open Leongatha’s account. He marked deep in the forward pocket at the Chook Sheds end under the old timekeeper’s box and slotted through a long drop punt that seemed to kick-start the Parrots.
The skill errors disappeared instantly and goals started to flow.
Pat McGrath ran into an open goal before Luke Bowman found Aaron Hillberg with a nice pass which resulted in Leongatha’s third.
The Parrots continued in the second quarter.
Ryan Olden snapped a clever goal, nuggety forward Kyle Cooper was getting involved and Justin Pellicano worked hard to provide a target.
Power pegged a goal back when Jack Blair set up a goal for Luke O’Connor but the Parrots responded with interest.
Zak Vernon and Olden both sharked crumbing goals before the big boys got involved for Leongatha. Josh Schelling pulled in a strong pack mark and converted before Pellicano tiptoed through some heavy traffic and finished nicely.
McGrath then kicked a nice long goal to cap off a slick passage of play that started with Vernon across half back.
The Parrots took a six goal lead to the main break and the feeling around the ground was that a blow-out might have been on the cards.
But the Power hung in there. An early second half goal from Layton Membrey gave them a sniff but that’s all.
Shannon Bray was Power’s main man in defence and had to contend with some big Leongatha units as the Parrots took three ruckman into the game; Schelling, Ben Willis and first gamer Julian Patterson as Gippsland Power had the week off.
Hillberg was kept reasonably quiet, and scored just the one goal.
Davey and Aiden Lindsay were lively around the packs and veteran Phil Young was also a solid contributor.
But Leongatha’s fast and precise ball movement was the difference.
The speed was highlighted by Vernon’s 120m dash from the half back flank, past the grandstand, all the way to 30m out from goal where he chipped the ball over to Ginnane open in the square.
While not the same pace, McGrath’s ball use is impeccable and he even managed to kick four for the afternoon.
Luke Bowman was back to his best in the middle while Cade Maskell is setting the game up nicely from half back.
The Parrots had two other Gippsland Power players on board. Boadie Motton is a quick and clever player with a whole lot of hair while Kyle Reid impressed again after starting in defence and moving forward in the second half to kick two goals.
The Parrots are off to Moe next week to face the team that knocked Traralgon from the top of the ladder, while Wonthaggi will host the struggling Drouin side.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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