Photo: Evette Johnson
Eastern Ranges 24.8 (152) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 5.10 (40)
Dandenong goals: Hartung 2, McCartney, Scott, Rennie
Dandenong best: Capiron, Hartung, Gawley, Bastinac, Kempster, Wilson
Dandenong were a shadow of the side that beat Eastern in the Qualifying Final three weeks ago, as they were soundly beaten by the Ranges to the tune of 112 points in the TAC Cup Grand Final on Sunday.
It wasn’t all bad for the Stingrays as they seemed quite competitive for the first quarter, only down 16 points at the first break. Clayton McCartney booted their first after kicking into the man on the mark, regathering the ball then snapping from the pocket. The Stingrays had 1.4 on the board to quarter time, which could have easily turned in to three or four goals had they not missed easy chances at goal. Dandenong had a fair share of the possessions in the first quarter but it was their ball use letting them down, with countless errors by foot gifting Eastern a chance to counter. Despite Tom Boyd having three goals to quarter time, the defensive efforts of Daniel Capiron and Daylan Kempster kept the tall forward to limited opportunities for the entire match.
For a team without a specialist ruckman, Dale Gawley and James Hammond more then held their own for the Stingrays in the first half. Both were competing well in the centre of the ground, nullifying the impact of the Connor O’Sullivan and Michael Apeness combo for Eastern. As this was the case, it was up to the Stingrays midfield to get on top of the Ranges and try and play the game on their own terms. However, the Stingrays ball use was again their downfall and they were constantly being carved up on the counter attack as they had a few too many numbers going forward trying to get themselves back in the game. A few 50m penalties also didn’t help the Stingrays as some players became visibly frustrated.
Down by 49 points with only one goal on the board to half time, Dandenong needed to kick the first few goals of the third quarter to give themselves a chance of getting back into the game. Unfortunately for them, it was Eastern who goaled first, as well as winning the quarter by four goals to two. Billy Hartung kicked both goals for the Stingrays in the quarter; both on the run as he tried to lift his side and inject more energy as he always does. The Stingrays still looked lethargic in transition and some players weren’t prepared to run back, leaving plenty of space through the centre of the ground for the Ranges to run into.
If there was any doubt that Eastern would run away with the game, they quickly put that to bed as they slammed on another 10 goals in the final quarter, compared to Dandenong’s two. Scott and Rennie were the goal kickers for Dandenong in the quarter, with Rennie finally booting one as he missed from the goal square and also from 15m out prior to converting his only goal. The final quarter was a low intensity affair as both teams knew the result of the outcome, and were quite happy to just see out the rest of the match. It was a disappointing effort from a side which had made it all the way to the Grand Final but at the end of the day, they can be proud they made it there. Plenty of bottom-age talent will be on display next year which will see them up there again no doubt.