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Gippsland Power survived a scare from a plucky Murray Bushrangers in a thrilling contest at RAMS Arena on Sunday. The Bushrangers led at every break but never looked entirely comfortable, with the largest margin at the break standing at just five points. Digging deep in the final term with a blustery gale behind them, the Power found a way through to boot the winning goal amidst five behinds, while the Bushrangers could only manage three behinds for the term. The game was an exciting first round game, as Bushrangers’ co-captain Cam Wilson and former Oakleigh Charger and Sydney Swans father-son prospect, Kyle Dunkley both booting three goals for their respective sides. Wilson was named the best for the Bushrangers, while Ben Kelly and Lachlan Ash‘s work in defence was superb. For the Power, Sam Berry stood up throughout the contest, while Ryan Sparkes was crucial in the back half, as was Sam Flanders in the front half. Josh Smith and Harrison Pepper benefited with two goals each inside 50, while Will Christie managed two up the other end.

Peter Williams - AFL Draft Central


#4 Sam Flanders

Last year Flanders was predominantly a forward who pinched in the midfield, and in Round 1 the roles were reversed with Flanders mostly getting his hands dirty at centre bounces. He rested at full-forward on some occasions, but constantly won the ball in the middle of the ground or on the wing and bombed long inside 50. He set up Gippsland’s first goal of the day with a nicely weighted kick to Josh Smith on the lead. One of the Power’s more influential players on the day, Flanders also laid a number of tackles and put defensive pressure on the ball carrier. A strong performance from the AFL Academy member.

#11 Kyle Dunkley

The overager from Oakleigh crossed to the Power this season with the Sale local having a big influence on proceedings. His first half was impressive as any, kicking three goals and rotating between midfield and forward. The potential Sydney father-son spent more time in the middle in the second half and finished the game with 21 touches and 3.1. What was impressive about a couple of his goals were they came from long range off a couple of steps and showed when given time and space he can be damaging. He has been able to add some more muscle to his frame this season which allowed him to play more inside, something he was not afforded at Oakleigh due to the strength at the club last year. Despite starting at most centre bounces, Dunkley was able to get to the outside and distribute long, something which helped get his team on top. Dunkley was deservedly named best for the Power in a promising performance.

#12 Brock Smith

After a quieter start in the match, the Power captained put in a huge last quarter to help haul his side over the line when Murray was attacking fiercely. Along with Ryan Sparkes, Smith was able to show composure in tricky weather conditions and showed good hands in defence under pressure. While he might not have been as prominent early, he got into good positions and applied pressure when required before really stepping up late in the game.

#16 Josh Smith

Rotated between full-forward and ruck, kicking the first goal of the game through a good lead, mark and easy set shot. He kicked his second in the next quarter before missing a chance at his third from a relatively straight forward shot on goal. His presenting and strength overhead was very impressive and proved to be a handful when he had a run at it. In the ruck, he gave a chop out and is more dominant as that full-forward leading out. Did his job with a couple of goals and probably should have been three, proving he will be a key target inside 50 this year for the Power.

Peter Williams - AFL Draft Central


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Match review written by Peter Williams reporting for AFL Draft Central. To view original article online click here

Scouting notes written by Peter Williams reporting for AFL Draft Central. To view original article online click here

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