Gippsland overcame the greatest challenge to its undefeated NAB League record yet to hang on for a heartstopping six-point win over Oakleigh at Morwell on Saturday.
In a classic contest between two premiership contenders, scores were level three times and the lead changed hands on no less than 11 occasions, with the Power finally making its move with five of the first six goals of the last quarter to build a game-high 24-point lead before withstanding a three-goal Oakleigh charge at the death.
The Chargers led by a point at the first and final breaks but trailed by eight points at half-time and six when it mattered most, showing how tight the game was all day.
Coby Burgiel (23 disposals, five tackles, seven inside-50s, three goals), Zane Duursma (18, six marks, five tackles, five entries, three goals) and Mitchell Moschetti (28, 11 tackles) were the matchwinners for Gippsland, with second-gamer Lane Ward (19, four marks) and defenders Max Walton (19, eight rebounds), Joel Scholtes (16, five marks, six rebounds) played important roles as well.
While Sandy and Oakleigh were missing key players through the NAB AFL National Championships, they remain well-drilled and two of the most esteemed teams of the competition.
Mitch Moscetti kicked the match-winner, collected 36 disposals and laid seven tackles last week against the Dragons, before following that up with another balanced midfield performance on Saturday.
His strength around stoppages, burst, and efficiency with possession has made him a standout in the NAB League across the last two years.
“He’s been a godsend this year – to have a 19-year-old with his experience, being able to actually play for us and do the lion share of midfield work has been fantastic and when we’ve needed someone of his endurance and expertise around the ball, he’s shown some really good strengths,” McLennan said.
McLennan also highlighted his leadership, with the 19-year-old having captained the Power last year and assisting the leadership group in 2022.
“He’s a very vocal person, he’s a great person around the club and he shows with voice and action how we should play and how we should behave around the football club – he really enhances our culture,” he said.
Against Sandringham, the Power burst out of the blocks and held off their fast-finishing opponents, while against the Chargers, they did enough in the important moments, according to coach Rhett McLennan.
“The consistency probably wasn’t there so we need to be mature in how we approach it and how we review the game,” he said.
“What we want to impress on our boys is that we need to continue playing our method of football and not rely too much on our talent.”
Zane Duursma’s 3.2 on the weekend is becoming characteristic, as he lifts his season goals tally to 22.13 from eight games.
But it was his work rate that caught the coach’s eye.
“We wanted to add the physical aspect to his game – everyone knows how good he is with the footy in his hands,” he said.
“We want him to work on being a really well-rounded footballer and be able to defend as well as attack.
“We wanted him to tackle more on the weekend and he laid (five) tackles with his three goals so we were impressed with his improvement.”
Match review excerpts via Pakenham Gazette, written by Jonty Ralphsmith and via NAB League website, which can be viewed in full here.
#6 Mitchell Moschetti
Picking up from where he left off last time out, Moschetti very nearly cracked the 30-disposal mark for a second game running as Gippsland’s most prolific ball winner. He was busy from the outset and proved polished in trying conditions, while also showcasing his deceptive strength at the contest. His composure with ball in hand was also impressive, before delivering typically sharp left-foot kicks on the move.
#7 Jacob Konstanty
Konstanty’s nine touches and lone goal don’t exactly jump off the page, but the lively small forward injected a great deal of energy into Gippsland’s attacking play. His all-action style saw him seemingly get involved in everything early on, as he started forward before rotating on-ball. Konstanty snared his goal in the third term via a classy snap, but sometimes looked to be a bit too cute with his kicks. Nonetheless, his creativity was at a high and with a touch more strength, he could have clunked some handy overhead marks too.
#9 Zane Duursma
Having proven his value as a forward, Duursma has made a more permanent shift into midfield for Gippsland of late, while maintaining his scoring threat. He was another whose clean handling looked a level above, with Duursma able to get first hand on the centre bounces and use his smooth step to boot a penetrative clearance away. The bottom-ager also converted cooly when afforded chances inside 50, slotting three set shots. He could have finished with a bigger haul, but made an impact and capped his game with a nice speccy in the final quarter.
#15 Coby Burgiel
A consistent figure who has perhaps flown under the radar to this point, Burgiel again returned strong numbers in what was his first NAB League outing since Round 4. The midfielder had little trouble getting his hands on the ball at stoppage, winning a few quick clearances even if that meant throwing the ball on his boot under pressure. Credit to his work rate, Burgiel also hit the scoreboard thrice with two of his majors coming in the final quarter.
#22 Archer Reid
Another whose stats look less remarkable than his actual output, Reid turned in another promising outing for the Power. He was stationed in his usual forward post and looked a real threat inside 50, losing his direct opponent on the lead early and proving hard to beat aerially with his reach at 201cm. He kicked two goals, albeit both from the goalsquare, which proved reward for effort across the game as a whole. A few more may have come, if his appeals to the umpires won him a couple more marks or free kicks.
Excerpt taken from article published by Rookie Me Central, which can viewed in full here.
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