Wonthaggi Power coach Jarryd Blair leads from the front in an absorbing home match against Sale on Saturday.
Photo: Paul Landells.

AN INACCURATE Wonthaggi recorded a narrow win, with the home side seeing off Sale’s challenge to get home by 8 points.

On a difficult day for scoring, the combatants scored just seven goals apiece in the windy conditions.

Wonthaggi began to find the target in the second half after going to the long break trailing 0.9-9 to Sale’s 2.7-19.

Sale still held an 8-point advantage at the last change, with the sides managing three goals each in a competitive third term.

The Magpies threatened to put the match beyond Wonthaggi’s reach with a couple of early majors in the final stanza, with the first a terrific shot on the run capping off a brilliant chain of passes.

That came within the first couple of minutes of the term, with a Jarrod Freeman snapped goal from close range following soon after to extend Sale’s lead.

A quick reply under pressure kept Wonthaggi in the hunt.

The teams then battled for ascendancy, with both having forward opportunities, before a late bump from Sale’s Jack Leslie gave Power’s Joahua Schulz a 50-metre penalty.

Although it didn’t put him within range of goal, it provided the opportunity to drive Wonthaggi into attack.

An impressive passage of play followed with Wonthaggi goaling from close range to sit just a straight kick behind the Magpies.

A Ryan Sparkes snap from the boundary line had the Power level at the 13-minute mark.

Sparkes delivered again, capitalising on a free kick, with his set shot curling back late to sail through the big sticks and the momentum was all Wonthaggi’s.

Both sides battled frantically for the many remaining minutes of the term, which were characterised by strong tackling and pressure, and neither home-side Wonthaggi nor the Magpies could add another major.

“It felt like it was an even contest all day and when we went 20-odd points down (in the last term) none of the boys panicked,” Wonthaggi playing coach Jarryd Blair said.

“It was more just getting the score on the board and starting to get a bit of reward for effort; we kicked pretty poorly and I think we were 0.10 before we kicked a goal, so we nearly kicked ourselves out of it.”

Blair enjoyed the atmosphere of the well-attended game, with a 50-year reunion for 1970-72 premiership players an additional drawcard.

The Wonthaggi coach was delighted to have footy back, saying it has been like one preseason after another with little reward during the Covid period.

Tim Knowles and Sparkes led the way for the Power, being the winner’s best on the day.

Sparkes was Wonthaggi’s only multiple goalkicker, notching a couple of majors, with his decisive last-term heroics delighting Power fans.

The Magpies’ Shannen Lange was his side’s most dangerous contributor up forward, slotting three goals, and was the beaten team’s best player.

Kane Martin was among Sale’s best and finished with a couple of majors.