DANDENONG Stingrays have sent an ominous warning to their fellow finalists with a comprehensive performance against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. The Stingrays put the Rebels to the sword early and never took the foot off, running out winners by 110 points to advance through to the preliminary finals.
Dandenong started off the game on fire, completely dominating the GWV Rebels in the opening term. They did not capitalise on all their chances, with the likes of Zac Foot and Bailey Williams missing their chances. Lachlan McDonnell made the most of his opportunity on the run, nailing the first goal of the game, with he soon joined by Ned Cahill with an opportunistic goal from the square. When Riley Bowman out-marked Jayden Wright on the lead and converted, it made it three goals to zero and the signs were ominous.
A second Cahill major with a fantastic snap on the run right before quarter time saw the Stingrays up by 28 at the first change. Behinds to Mitch Martin and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan were the only scorers for the Rebels, and limited inside 50s made it tough. They had a couple of promising passages, but ultimately it amounted to very little with the swift ball movement and hunting nature of the Stingrays.
It did not take long after the break for speedster Jai Taylor to find space inside 50 and launched on goal for the Stingrays first of the second term to extend their lead out to 34 points just a few minutes into the quarter. Not long after Sam Fletcher was left all on his own about 40m out and took an easy grab. The set shot attempt was not perfect, but had the desired outcome with a great goal. Then Cottrell made it three in the first 10 minutes. When captain, Campbell Hustwaite almost made it four but it just skewed it, the Stingrays were eyeing off a 50-point plus lead.
Fletcher must have smelled because he just found space again with some really poor checking, took the mark but did not make them pay. Speaking of poor checking, Cahill somehow conjured something out of nothing with a great kick off the ground in the goal square to push the margin to 55 points. Finlay Bayne then pushed it beyond 10 goals off a Rebels error to nail a goal from a running shot.
There was little to smile about for the Rebels in the first half, but the likes of Jed Hill and Isaac Wareham showed glimpses of class, but it was too few and far between. Dandenong kept piling on the pressure, and back-to-back goals to Hustwaite and Bailey Williams. It took a while, but on the edge of half-time, Scott Carlin found space inside 50 and kicked it lovely off the boot for the Rebels’ first of the game to avoid a goalless first half. Then remarkably, a free kick and 50-metre penalty to Darcy McEldrew on the siren resulted in a second consecutive goal to the Rebels, to trail by 63 points at the main break.
The game recommenced with the talented Sam Sturt looking forlorn on the bench after picking up an injury and the Stingrays not looking to risk him. It was soon one down from each side with Isaac Grant also on the bench with a calf complaint. Matty Lloyd was crunched and had to be helped from the field early in the third term, but luckily for the Rebels Lloyd returned to the field not long after. The Rebels had an early attack up forward, with Martin winning a free kick on goal but could not convert, missing to the right.
There was a noticeable lift in intensity by the Rebels, having multiple attacks inside 50 but just missing their opportunities to capitalise with majors. The Rebels effort was exemplified by Martin, who won another free kick for a great tackle and locking the arms. Unfortunately the effort amounted to very little as Dandenong had a great end-to-end play which resulted in a great running goal to Jake Frawley. A Cottrell shot on goal tugged to the left, but the Stingrays were coming. Toby Bedford was having a ripper of a game cutting up through the midfield. A towering mark from Zac Foot inside 50 lead to another Cottrell shot on goal but was touched on the line.
Bedford’s fantastic game saw him get reward for effort with a great running goal to evade an opponent and nail the goal straight on. Rebels defender, Wright had his own opportunity up the other end with a quick snap on goal but went out on the full. The Rebels were playing much better in the third term, but the Stingrays pace and sheer determination to win the football and dispose of it was overwhelming for the ninth placed side. Another late goal to McDonnell – his second of the game – put the margin out to 82 points.
The first inside 50 of the fourth term saw back-to-back shots for Dandenong, with Hustwaite missing a flying shot, then he intercepted a Lloyd kickout, passed off to Bedford who lined up from 15m out but toed it for a behind – his first blemish of the game. Then the goal of the game came through Stephen Cumming. Tucked against the boundary line after a terrific vertical jump mark, he bent around with an unbelievable snap which sailed through and pushed the Stingrays beyond 100 points.
Dandenong almost had another goal with a flying, bouncing attempt but Wareham was good enough to get back and rush it across the line. Up the other end, Charlie Wilson who had been rather subdued made the most of his opportunity with a standard set shot goal. It was not long before Bayne responded for the Stingrays, sneaking forward into space, marking off a clever centring pass from Cahill, and kicked truly from the set shot. Then Cahill had a second goal assist in as many minutes, handballing to McDonnell in the square who kicked truly.
Wareham had another perfect pin-point pass to Wilson once again, but the competition leading goal kicker could not finish off the work this time, missing to the right. While highlights were few and far between, Ugle-Hagan continued to be a highlight taking some fantastic contested marks in the final term. Wilson had a third shot on goal in the term, but missed again. The siren was imminent but not before Cahill made it four majors, marking alone inside 50 and converting perfectly with a straight set shot. If that was not enough, Luca Goonan put the extra cream on the cake with a perfect snap on goal to put it well beyond 100 and end the game.
Dandenong Stingrays 4.6 | 11.11 | 14.14 | 19.20 (134)
GWV Rebels 0.2 | 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.6 (24)
Dandenong: Ned Cahill 4, Lachlan McDonnell 3, Finlay Bayne 2, Riley Bowman, Sam Fletcher, Jai Taylor, Campbell Hustwaite, Bailey Williams, Matthew Cottrell, Jake Frawley, Toby Bedford, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan.
GWV: Scott Carlin, Darcy McEldrew, Charlie Wilson.
Dandenong: Toby Bedford, Will Hamill, Ned Cahill, Lachlan McDonnell, Finlay Bayne, Matthew Cottrell
GWV: Isaac Wareham, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Lochie Dawson, Jayden Wright, Mitch Martin, Jacob Lohmann