By Sam Watson
WONTHAGGI Power has beaten Leongatha at Leongatha for the first time since 2014, signalling to the rest of the competition they are the real deal.
The matchup was a hotly contested one, with both teams cracking in hard from the get-go.
After both sides missed some early opportunities, Leongatha’s Nick Nagel broke through for the first goal of the contest.
After they were able to get a goal on the board, the Parrots looked like they were starting to take control of the contest.
But when Wonthaggi’s Lachie Ferguson picked up the ball at high pace running away from goal and uncorked a torpedo that somehow sailed through, the momentum shifted.
Youngster Harry Dawson then slotted another goal for the Power after a 50m penalty brought him 30 from home.
Both sides continued to miss some easy opportunities but right before quarter time, Leongatha was able to bounce back and take a five-point lead.
In the second quarter, both defences held up extremely well with only one goal being allowed per team.
Chris Verboon was instrumental down back for the Parrots, as was Fergus O’Connor and Tim Knowles for the Power.
Although the defences were working brilliantly, plenty of opportunities went begging from both sides.
Leongatha went into the half-time break with a seven-point lead, but Wonthaggi coach Jarryd Blair believed his players had only scratched the surface in terms of their play so far.
Play resumed and once again the game turned into a real contest.
Wonthaggi’s Toma Huther and Leongatha’s Ben Willis were locked in a tense battle in the ruck and both midfields were performing well.
Aiden Lindsay and Jack Blair were causing plenty of damage for Wonthaggi, but Jake Van Der Pligt, Aaron Heppell and Tom Marriott were all just as damaging for Leongatha.
Cam Olden was also causing plenty of headaches for the Power and he was able to split the middle for the second time to extend the Parrots’ lead.
But once again Wonthaggi responded, this time through a couple of brothers with a famous Wonthaggi last name.
After earning a 50m penalty Jarryd Blair narrowed the margin and shortly after, Jack Blair kicked another goal to bring the scores level, 41 a piece at three quarter time.
In the fourth quarter both sides continued their poor kicking for goal, but it was Wonthaggi who earned the lead after Jordan Staley converted a set shot.
But Leongatha promptly responded through Nagel and grabbed the lead by one point.
With the game still in the balance, both sides were extremely desperate at every contest but once again it was Ferguson who shifted the momentum.
After a Leongatha kickout went straight back into the 50, Ferguson beautifully roved a marking contest and snapped a goal to give Wonthaggi back the lead.
But Leongatha refused to lie down, and it looked like they were about to find another goal until Huther came flying out of nowhere to smother what might have been a game winning goal for Leongatha.
Directly after that, the ball rebounded to Wonthaggi’s end and thanks to some clever play from Troy Harley and Staley, Lachie Jones ended up with an uncontested mark 25 metres from goal.
Jones was able to split the middle extending Wonthaggi’s lead to 11 points.
The home side continued pumping the ball inside 50 but Wonthaggi’s defence stood up over and over again and they were able to hang on for an 11-point victory.
You’d struggle to find a more packed room than Wonthaggi’s after the game, as the victors belted out their song.
Maybe the supporters remembered when Wonthaggi last successfully travelled to Leongatha, they made it to the grand final.
Full football coverage in this weeks edition of the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times.
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