Gippsland Power ended Bendigo Pioneers’ two-game winning streak with a fast-finishing 25-point win over the Pioneers in the opening game at Queen Elizabeth Oval yesterday. The Pioneers stuck with one of the league favourites for most of the match before a few late goals put the result beyond doubt. The Power booted the last three goals of the game, including two to Fraser Phillips to seal the match in a 12.11 (83) to 8.10 (58) win. Phillips was impressive up forward with 12 disposals, four marks and 3.2, joined at times by the talented Caleb Serong who slotted two goals from 23 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds. Serong’s partner in crime in the midfield, Sam Flanders was once again prolific with 20 touches, two marks, five clearances and four inside 50s, while Ryan Sparkes (21 disposals, six inside 50s) and Sam Berry (20 disposals, six clearances) were others who stood out. For the Pioneers, bottom-ager Sam Conforti was a standout with 22 disposals, four marks, four clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Brodie Kemp (21 disposals, four marks, six clearances, five inside 50s and the opening goal) was impressive throughout the match, while Jeremy Rodi (19 disposals, four marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds) and Brady Rowles (13 disposals, five rebounds) were also prominent.Peter Williams - Aussie Rules Draft Central
#2 Caleb Serong
Does not play a bad game and on this occasion, Serong was one of Gippsland’s best across the four quarters, rotating between midfield and forward. He has great skills and is able to weight kicks well, while also having terrific strength for a small player. Serong just has the ability to get his hands free whilst being tackled, and force opponents to commit to the tackle before giving the ball off to a teammate in space. He had a mind blank in the third term where he gave away a downfield free for a slightly late bump on an opponent, but got forward and booted two goals using strong hands.
#4 Sam Flanders
The forward-turned-midfielder had another impressive game throughout the four quarters, tending to win the ball at the stoppage and get the hands free to find a teammate running past. He would then spread to the outside and win the footy in space and have an impact on the outside.
#11 Kyle Dunkley
Providing strong support on the inside for Gippsland and laid a number of big tackles on opponents throughout the match. His kicking can be hit or miss at times, with his long, penetrating kick more effective than trying to find targets at short range. Dunkley unloaded a long-bomb from well outside 50m and put it straight through the middle, and when inside 50 provides leads and is good in the air or ground level.
#12 Brock Smith
A solid game from the AFL Academy defender who played well one-on-one and is composed with ball-in-hand in the back half. He had a great punch in the second term to put it across the line at half-back and took a good intercept mark on the wing not long after. Continued to apply great defensive pressure and played his role.
#15 Ryan Sparkes
The defender-midfielder just finds the ball wherever he goes and had a nice clearance straight out of the middle to start the game and his ability to win the ball in transition and get it forward was a feature of his match. Has a neat kick, often opting for shorter options, then pushing forward to offer as a target in space. A valuable, underrated midfielder in the side.
#16 Josh Smith
Not a huge game by any means, but played his role inside 50 with his bodywork and finished off with a goal and a couple of score assists. Had a great kick inside 50 to Harrison Pepper leading out, and laid a great tackle in the first term to cause a spillage in defence.
#19 Fraser Phillips
The best game of the season so far for Phillips who has an impact despite not having high disposal numbers. Finishing with just the 12 touches, Phillips roamed around the forward 50 and up to the wing, booting 3.2 in the game and showed high footy IQ and a great goal sense to kick a couple of goals out of nothing. He also showed good defensive pressure, laying a number of tackles inside 50. Effectively nailed the coffin shut in the final term with back-to-back goals including a snap off a few steps and converting a set shot.
#22 Zac Reid
The key defender was another who played his role with little fuss, taking a few marks and just using the ball well across the ground. Reid did not miss a target and played well one-on-one, but his moment of the match was a massive goal-saving tackle in the final term as an opponent ran into an open goal, stopping him in his tracks.Peter Williams - Aussie Rules Draft Central
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