By Hayley Wildes
This time of year is always difficult and once again without their stars, the Dandenong Stingrays suffered another loss, this time at the hands of the Greater Western Victoria Rebels at Shepley Oval on Saturday afternoon.
With many of their key players – including stars Hayden Young and Ned Cahill – unavailable after playing for Vic Country against South Australia in the 2019 AFL Under-18 Championships on Friday, the Rays were unable to stay with the Rebels after quarter time.
Kicking with a very strong wind in the opening term, Dandenong dominated possession early but couldn’t put much scoreboard pressure on. When the Rebels kicked a late first quarter goal, they found themselves down by just seven points, 2.2 (14) to 1.1 (7).
Whilst the first quarter was wind effected, the second quarter was when the rain really started to fall, but that mattered little for the Rebels as they powered away with the breeze, kicking five goal to zero in the second quarter to hold a 23-point half time lead.
Reece Orchard’s first half was encouraging as he battled hard, but the Rays just simply couldn’t repel the sheer volume of forward 50 entries that the Rebels generated.
Needing to get back in the game in the third quarter, Dandenong struggled in the wet and slippery conditions to make any inroads and could only muster one goal in the quarter. Despite holding Greater Western Victoria goalless, trailing by 15 points at the final change with the Rebels due to kick with the howling breeze in the final term, was always going to spell trouble.
To Dandenong’s credit, they didn’t give up and fought it out until the end but were never in the contest as Greater Western Victoria won by 28 points, 8.5 (53) to 3.7 (25).
Just one goal after quarter time was never going to be enough for the Rays, who fell to their third successive loss. Max Gregory, Clayton Gay and Jack Toner were impressive in defeat.
The Rays’ Vic Country representatives were involved in a thrilling win over South Australia in Geelong. Taking on last year’s champions, Vic Country were absolutely sensational as they claimed a one-point win, 9.9 (63) to 9.8 (92), as Dandenong’s Cody Weightman slotted the match-winner with minutes remaining.
Weightman was sublime all day and booted four huge goals, while Cahill (12 disposals, five tackles and one goal) and Young (18 disposals) again played crucial roles for the undefeated Country squad.
Vic Country takes on Western Australia at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday from 2:10pm, while the Rays hit the road to take on the Calder Cannons on Saturday.