SANDRINGHAM Dragons were knocked out of the TAC Cup finals after a heartbreaking four-point loss to Gippsland Power at Visy Park on Saturday.
The Dragons came agonisingly close to making the grand final, which would have given them a chance to defend their 2011 premiership, but weren’t able to get past a powerful Gippsland outfit.
In an outstanding game of football the lead changed frequently, and no side ever looked like getting a match-winning advantage.
In the end the difference between the two sides was Gippsland captain Tim Membrey, who put in one of the best games of his career, scoring eight goals in a best-on-ground performance. The Dragons had no answer for him.
The Power led by a goal at quarter-time and had jumped ahead by 11 points at the main break, as the two teams put on a display of skill, strong marking and fast, free-flowing football rarely seen in players of such a young age.
The Dragons gave themselves the best possible chance by cutting the margin to just four points at three-quarter time. Going into the final quarter Justin Plapp told the group to dig deep and throw everything at their more fancied opponents.
They kicked four goals in a see-sawing last quarter and looked the better team early, but the Power demonstrated the class and patience they showed at their best moments this season to edge out Sandringham, winning 16.10 (106) to 15.12 (102).
James Stewart kicked three goals for the Dragons while Elliot Le Grice was best on ground.
The Dragons’ top two vote-getters in the Morrish Medal, Kenny Ong and Chris Mangoni, were also impressive.
GIPPSLAND 16.10 (106) vSANDRINGHAM 15.12 (102)
Goals: T. Membrey 8, B. Kearns 2, N. Graham 2, M. Northe 2, J. Scott , A. Tipungwuti
Best: T. Membrey, T. Muir, S. Lange, L. Channing, J. Johnstone, W. Hams
Goals: J. Stewart 3, Y. Zijai 2, T. Langdon 2, N. Freeman, T. Tyquin, K. Heatherley, M. Hayes K. Amon, C. Cathcart, E. Le Grice, M. Howes
Best: E. Le Grice, K. Ong, C. Mangoni, T. Tyquin, M. Barnes, J. Wilson
Dragon Julian Eimutis tackles Nicholas Graham