Rays on a path to glory

Angus Paterson''s (#5) teammates get around him after a goal recently. 181553 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Hayley Wildes

 There is no doubt that the Dandenong Stingrays have enjoyed a terrific TAC Cup season thus far, but with six games left in the home and away season, they will be looking to finish on a high and roar into finals with plenty of momentum.

With no TAC Cup action over the weekend, the Rays head into the final stretch of the season with an impressive record of 9-1, two games clear on top of the ladder and riding a five-game winning streak.

The most remarkable aspect of the Rays winning streak has been the fact that they have been without not just a couple of stars, but a host of their best performers for the last three games.

Bailey Williams, Zac Foot, Toby Bedford, Mitch Riordan and Sam Fletcher have all not played for the Rays in over a month because of Vic Country commitments, while Riley Bowman, Hayden Young and Will Hamill are among others to have missed TAC Cup games due to representing Vic Country.

Earlier in the season, Dandenong coach Craig Black talked about what it meant to the club to have players representing Vic Country at the 2018 AFL under-18 National Championships.

“I just think it’s a really good reward for our zone; AFL South East – it’s a great area. It’s a really good reward for all the local coaches and the junior clubs that have put in so much time and effort for these young men.” He said.

“Then when they come to us it’s a great reward for our program and for everyone involved.”

Having a club-record 12 Vic Country selections this year is proof of the sheer volume of top-end talent the Rays possess, but the five-game winning streak points to the incredible depth of the squad.

While other teams have faltered over the challenging AFL under-18 National Championships period, the Rays have gone from strength to strength, getting contributions across the board.

Further showcasing the Rays dominance without their stars is the fact that they have won their last five games by an average of 53 points. They aren’t just beating teams, they are tearing them a part.

Dandenong’s precision with ball in hand and willingness to take the game on is a staple of their attack. Teams simply can’t defend the Rays for four quarters.

Of their remaining six games, the Rays don’t face a team currently placed in the top five.

With their Vic Country representatives set to return for the Rays home game against the Geelong Falcons on Saturday July 7th, the Rays will be favoured to keep their winning streak alive.