Classic Contests: Porter inspires Power to hand Falcons first loss

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at another clash between the NAB League rivals to complete our full series, and today’s battle is between the Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2017, when an inspired performance helped Gippsland hand the Falcons their first loss for the season.

2017 TAC Cup, Round 9
Saturday June 3, 12:00pm
Central Reserve, Colac

GEELONG FALCONS 2.0 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 10.5 (65)
GIPPSLAND POWER 3.3 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 9.16 (70)

GOALS:

Geelong: A. Garner 6, M. Chafer, F. O’Gorman, L. Noble, B. Cockerill
Gippsland:
C. Porter 4, B. Beck, X. Duursma, I. Mosquito, K. Reid, T. Fleming

BEST:

Geelong: C. Idun, S. Walsh, L. Noble, A. Garner, H. Benson, T. McCartin
Gippsland:
C. Porter, X. Duursma, A. Quigley, W. Stephenson, T. Fleming, M. McGannon

Draftees in action:

Geelong: Tom McCartin, Brayden Ham, Sam Walsh, Connor Idun
Gippsland: Callum Porter, Xavier Duursma, Irving Mosquito

Seldom did Sam Walsh find himself outdone in a midfield battle throughout his decorated junior career, but on an early-June afternoon in Colac, the improbable occurred. A bottom-ager in the 2017 season, Walsh was still highly regarded and already well known for his ability to rack up huge numbers. He did just that against the Gippsland Power in Round 9 of the TAC Cup with 30 disposals and 10 marks, but he and his Falcons were eclipsed by a mammoth 36-disposal and four-goal effort from Power midfielder, Cal Porter.

To that point in the season, the Falcons had hardly put a foot wrong. Their 8-0 record had them sitting pretty atop the ladder, with an average winning margin of over 55 points across the first seven rounds. Conversely, the Power’s finals hopes looked to be dwindling as they slumped to 2-6 on the back of three-consecutive losses, only good enough for 10th place.

But with plenty of time left to resurrect its campaign, the Morwell-based talent program only needed a spark to light up the back-end of its season. It seemed Gippsland was up for the fight too, creating a greater number of scoring chances in the opening exchanges, but being kept within touch by the more accurate Falcons side.

A nine-point advantage was extended to 24 at the main break, and made 25 by three quarter time as Gippsland looked like cruising to what should have been an unlikely win. As good sides often do, Geelong made it tough in the end, pouring on 5.1 to Gippsland’s 1.5 in the final term. But just as the Power’s inaccuracy looked like catching up with them, they managed to hold on for a memorable five-point win on the road.

While the day will always be remembered for Porter’s breakout performance, a number of others also showed their class. Aside from Walsh’s 30 disposals for the Falcons, Adam Garner spearheaded his side’s late charge to finish with six goals, as future draftees Connor Idun (11 disposals, two marks, three tackles) and Tom McCartin (11 disposals, four marks, six tackles) were also named among the best. Bayley Cockerill (31 disposals, one goal) and Harry Benson (27 and one) were others to find plenty of the ball.

For Gippsland, a bottom-aged Xavier Duursma showed his class with 22 disposals and a goal, while fellow draftee Irving Mosquito also hit the scoreboard. Diminutive ball winner Will Stephenson was also productive with 25 touches and 9 marks. alongside Aiden Quigley (21 disposals, four marks, five tackles).

The Power would go on to drastically improve their early-season form, finishing the home-and-away allotment in seventh at 8-10, before Geelong exacted its revenge in week one of finals by way of an 85-point thrashing. The Falcons finished equal-top in the regular season but had to settle for second on percentage. They won through to a famous grand final against Sandringham, which they won by two points as Joel Amartey‘s post-siren shot went wide for the Dragons.

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