By Andrew Paloczi
AN ENTHRALLING contest ended in a fitting draw, with home team Warragul’s last-term surge appearing to have won the Gulls the match before Wonthaggi hit back deep in time on splitting the points.
Power coach Jarryd Blair was relieved to salvage something from the match but was disappointed his side let a 20-point three quarter time lead slip.
That was despite Wonthaggi nailing the first goal of the final term.
Addressing his players after the game, Blair asked them to consider whether their preparation during the week was up to scratch, or “did we think it was just going to happen?”
Power’s playing coach noted there were “so many uncharacteristic moments” during the match.
He stressed that anyone in the league can win and you have to be on your game every week, suggesting too much was left to too few Power players, particularly skipper Aiden ‘Foxy’ Lindsay.
“He’s forever working hard and whatever we ask him to do, whether it’s half forward, halfback or in the middle, he goes and gets it done,” Blair said of Foxy.
Nineteen-year-old Noah Anderson also won the coach’s praise.
“He’s a smart player and he works hard to get to good spots and creates opportunities for us,” Blair said.
Although disappointed Power didn’t finish the job in the final term, Blair paid tribute to the Gulls for their fighting effort.
“They were able to get guys out, kept the ball moving and they’ve got some good tall players who were able to take some marks,” he said.
Jed Lamb was a prominent forward target for Warragul throughout the day, booting early goals to help the Gulls get the jump on the Power and continuing to be menacing on the scoreboard.
His goal from close range, after earning a free kick, put Warragul 7 points ahead during time on in the final term, after the Gulls stormed back from 26 points down early in the quarter.
Surprisingly, Lamb’s six majors for the match weren’t enough for him to be named in Warragul’s best.
Sean Masterson was declared the Gulls’ best, with his solid game including some key defensive efforts to thwart the Power as the game went down to the wire.
Big Sam Whibley was gallant in the ruck all day for Warragul presenting a major challenge for Power opponents, such as Toma Huther, but they stuck at the task well.
“He’s a really solid player and kept us on our toes all day,” Blair said of Whibley.
After a first half in which little separated the sides, Wonthaggi looked to have broken free when Josh Bates marked and goaled five minutes into the final term, finishing off an impressive chain of passes from his teammates.
Power players were suddenly finding space and Warragul seemed to be a spent force, but that proved deceptive, with the Gulls becoming an increasingly potent attacking force and piling on goals.
Warragul led by 7 points deep in time on, but a Wonthaggi behind tightened up the contest and gave the Power hope of getting back on level terms.
The Gulls then paid the price for hesitancy in defence, with Wonthaggi laying a powerful tackle that earned a free kick.
The footy spilled free, with Power crumbing it and goaling and the umpire correctly paying ‘advantage’.
While skipper Lindsay was named Wonthaggi’s best, with teammate Mitch Hayes also prominent, Jack Hutchinson led the way for the Power around the big sticks, notching four majors.
Although all teams enjoy an Easter break this weekend, Power players will undoubtedly put plenty of effort into their preparation for a blockbuster round 3 home match against Leongatha.