June 5, 2018 by admin
Fade out: Dandenong Stingray Clayton McCartney booted a great goal in their narrow TAC Cup loss to Gippsland Power on Saturday. Picture: Marco De LucaDANDENONG Stingrays were like the antsy home brewer who cracked the first stubby before the ale was ready.
For three quarters of Saturday’s qualifying final the Stingrays were brewing nicely against Gippsland Power and appeared headed for a preliminary final.
Young star Lachie Whitfield was showing the football public why he has long been touted the No. 1 draft pick. The midfield was dominant and they had winners up forward and down back.
That was when they cracked the first stubby – about 30 minutes early.
At the final change the Stingrays were 34 points in front; by full time they had failed to add to their score and the Power had booted 7.3 for the term to run out 11-point victors.
Stingrays coach Graham Yeats was fuming. He declined the opportunity to talk about the capitulation. Instead, assistant coach Craig Black fronted the media.
“It’s obviously a disappointing result. I thought we played good footy for about three quarters and it’s pretty obvious they outworked us in the last quarter, but we’ve got another week so we’ll go back to the drawing board,” Black said.
“Three quarters were really good, so we’ll look at the positive side of things and get back to it.”
The Stingrays now face an elimination semi-final against neighbours Oakleigh Chargers at Visy Park, Carlton this Sunday at 1.45pm.
The Stingrays will be sweating on the fitness of Whitfield, who came off in the last quarter with a foot ailment which he was icing after the game. Black said Nathan Wright is some chance to return from injury for the clash.
While it was a heartbreaking loss for the Stingrays, adding to their disappointing finals record, there were still plenty of positives. For the bulk of the game they were cohesive, well drilled, skilled and tackling like madmen.
The Stingrays kicked 4.5 to zip in the opening term with Billy Hartung running riot. The Stingrays could have been further in front if it wasn’t for relatively easy misses to Clayton McCartney, who kicked a brilliant goal earlier in the term, and Matt Rennie.
It was clear the Power had received a rocket from coach Nick Stevens at quarter time and they lifted their intensity in the second term. They had cut the margin to four goals by half-time with two highlights, both involving Mornington product Whitfield.
A strong mark to Ryan Marks-Logan at half-back and a flowing piece of play down the ground resulted in Whitfield marking and easily converting.
The second was pure brilliance. Whitfield got the ball in the forward pocket, ignoring the intense pressure and spotting his mate Hartung with a deft snap kick into the corridor. The third quarter provided few highlights with the Stingrays kicking 3.6 to 1.2.
While it’s not certain if Yeats is a home brewer, there was certainly a bitter taste in his mouth.
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