By Hayley Wildes
The Dandenong Stingrays made it six wins on the trot with a comprehensive win over the Geelong Falcons on a wet and windy Saturday afternoon at Shepley Oval.
As has been the story all season long, the Stingrays’ depth and willingness to work for one another was the difference.
The Falcons came out with plenty of hunger and were set up well behind the ball and the Rays found it tough going for the opening 10 minutes of the game.
Despite Geelong’s dominance, they were unable to convert on the scoreboard and when Riley Bowman put through the first major of the day at the 12-minute mark, the Rays had the lead.
The second half of the first term saw the Stingrays really assert their dominance around the contest as they scored two more goals to hold a 19-point lead at quarter time.
Just 20 seconds into the second term, Matthew Cottrell slotted a beautiful running goal to extend the Rays’ lead.
Dandenong looked to be running away with the game, but Geelong pushed hard and scored three goals in three minutes midway through the term to cut the Rays’ lead to just 13 points.
The Rays didn’t panic though and responded well in the latter stages of the first half as Jarryd Barker booted two majors to have Dandenong well-placed at half time, 7.6 (48) to 3.5 (23).
The likes of captain Campbell Hustwaite, Toby Bedford and Sam Fletcher were getting plenty of the ball in the clinches.
The third quarter saw conditions get even worse as the wind picked up and rain started to fall more consistently. It didn’t worry the Stingrays though as they put on four more goals and kept the Falcons to just one.
Will Hamill provided the highlight of the quarter with an extraordinary running goal that started on the wing and ended with a goal from a tight angle in the forward pocket.
Riley Bowman excelled in the wet conditions. The big man began to take over the game in the third term with his class and clean hands.
A 44-point three quarter time lead was extended in the opening minute of the final term as Hustwaite sped out of the centre and delivered to Ed Cahill in the goal square.
In the end, a six goal to one final term saw the Rays claim a 17.13 (115) to 5.7 (37) win.
Riley Bowman (four goals), Toby Bedford, Matthew Cottrell and Sam Fletcher were sublime all day. Matthew Cumming’s ability to read the ball and take intercept marks in the defensive half was impressive, making it near impossible for the Falcons to get any offensive flow going.
An impressive 11 individual goal-kickers once again proved the Rays’ attack is far from one-dimensional.