Tag: Dandenong Stingrays

Future Saint already making waves at VFLW level

SINCE earlier this year, Dandenong Stingrays’ Isabella Shannon has known her fate for the 2020 AFL Women’s season. Unlike many of her peers, Shannon was pre-listed by the St Kilda side set to come into the top-level competition at the beginning of next season. Joined by Stingrays’ teammate and captain Molly McDonald, Shannon has followed the same pathway this year, graduating from the Stingrays, to Vic Country, to the Southern Saints’ VFL Women’s side to acquaint herself with the coaching staff and many teammates who will run out in the red, black and white next year.

Shannon initially got into football after having a kick with her father and brother, and once her local club in Mount Eliza started a girls program, the tall utility jumped at the prospect. While her talent is undeniable – pre-listed prior to her top-age year to an expansion AFLW club speaks to that – it is the close bond she has through the sport that keeps her driven to reach her goals.

“Definitely like the friendships that you make, that’s what so good about footy,” Shannon said. “There’s like 25 girls in a team so you get to make so many friends and through the rep stuff, you just know people from all over the country which is awesome.”

An area Shannon has worked on this year is her repeat sprints to try and push hard across four quarters and continually develop her game. As a player who has played in attack, midfield and defence, she has seemed to settle into the back half since taking up her role at the Southern Saints in the back-end of the season. She said the professionalism of being a member of an AFLW club and experiencing that side of sport was “awesome” and she looked forward to building her confidence throughout the season.

Shannon’s coach at the Saints, Peta Searle said the improvement shown by the 18-year-old to not only come in and play a role, but cement her spot in the side was remarkable.

“I’ve really loved watching the growth in her this year,” Searle said. “She’s come into our side and she’s now been picked as part of our best seven defenders and all the girls are now getting picked on, not what we’ve got to achieve in 2020, but what we can achieve in this finals series and definitely Isabella and Molly (McDonald) have earned their spots in our side.”

In season 2019, Shannon averaged 15.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.4 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s per game for the Stingrays, predominantly playing through the midfield. She then pushed further back for Vic Country, where she averaged 11.3 disposals and 2.7 tackles per game on the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. While her numbers are lower at VFLW level – just the 4.5 disposals and 1.3 tackles, she has answered the call each week and played her role for the side.

With the Saints still in contention for a VFLW flag, Shannon could experience success with her new teammates before making the step up to the elite level next year.

McDonald forges footy path

DANDENONG Stingrays’ captain and Vic Country leader Molly McDonald was in a different situation to most draft hopefuls coming into her top-age year. The talented midfielder did not have the question marks hanging over her head as to where she might be in 12 months time, having already been snapped up by St Kilda as a pre-listed player – along with Stingrays’ teammate Isabella Shannon – well ahead of the AFL Women’s 2020 season. The greater certainty over her playing future did not deter McDonald from having a starring role in Stingrays’ team, and being a key contributor in Vic Country’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships campaign.

McDonald originally started football after crossing from basketball when a pathway became clear.
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“I was playing basketball and then I quit rep’ because I always wanted to play footy,” she said. “I was with my brother, and then just started playing footy.”

The Stingrays’ leader said she relished the captaincy this year describing it as “really exciting”.

“I just like to get around the girls and lead as an example for them,” McDonald said at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day, hosted by Rookie Me in March.

Whilst McDonald enjoyed basketball and even reached representative levels in the sport, she always had the passion for football and said she enjoyed the “freedom” she had on the footy field, enabling her to run across the ground. Unfortunately the Stingrays did not make the finals of the NAB League Girls which McDonald had hoped for, but they showed plenty of promising signs, particularly early in the season when they pushed a number of teams. Individually, McDonald identified a number of areas for her to improve her game this year.

“Probably working on the aspects of my game that are not so strong,” McDonald said. “So working through the forward line and working on my opposite foot.”

In season 2019, McDonald averaged 13.7 disposals, 1.6 marks, 3.7 tackles and 3.9 inside 50s, while also booting a couple of goals spending time between midfield and half-forward. On debut for the Southern Saints, McDonald showed she was more than capable in the Saints’ win over Casey Demons, amassing 16 disposals, three marks and six tackles to be one of the best players on the field.

Following her VFLW commitments, McDonald headed north to assist Vic Country in going undefeated in Round 2 of the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships after they initially lost to Vic Metro. McDonald averaged 12.0 disposals, 4.3 tackles and 4.3 inside 50s and booted a goal across her three games, then returned to play her second VFLW match last weekend – oddly against Casey again – and booted her first goal in the competition.

Of all the achievements this season, McDonald’s greatest came during the week when she was named in the 2019 Under-18 AFL Women’s All-Australian side for her efforts during the national carnival. While many other top-age girls are hoping they can find a home in the AFL Women’s Draft later this year, McDonald’s fate is known, but it is not stopping her aiming to have a huge impact on the Southern Saints’ finals campaign with her side currently sitting second on the ladder, two games clear of third.

Draft Central Rising Star: NAB League Girls – Round 9

DANDENONG Stingrays midfielder, Tyanna Smith was absolutely everywhere in Round 9, with the tenacious middle-ager adding searing pace to a midfield which includes two pre-listed AFLW players, as well as clinical finishing inside 50 to make it a day out.

Smith finished with 23 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds, and four-straight goals in an impressive display.

Scouting notes for Round 9 vs. Western Jets:

#28 Tyanna Smith

Added raw pace and excitement to the midfield, making Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon‘s dynamic duo and terrific trio for the day. The thing that made Smith stand out was her ability to push forward and become a dangerous figure inside 50, where she was seemingly everywhere at times as she slotted multiple goals. Her best came from a forward 50 stoppage, where she broke away and kicked truly, with her streaming runs from slick roves a nice feature throughout. Had another eye-catching passage of play where she paddled the ball along the boundary on defensive wing, showing great strength to keep her feet and composure to come away with the ball. Arguably the most damaging Stingray on the day, a top game from the middle-ager.

Rising Star of the Week:

Round 1 – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
Round 2 – Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Round 3 – Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)
Round 4 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Round 5 – Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Round 6 – Tess Flintoff (Eastern Ranges)
Round 7 – Grace McRae (Gippsland Power)
Round 8 – Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers)
Round 9 – TYANNA SMITH (DANDENONG STINGRAYS)

Final Siren Podcast: Episode 4

In a huge episode of Final Siren Podcast, host Matthew Cocks and Draft Central’s Peter Williams and Sophie Taylor chat all things NAB League and this week’s podcast includes:

* Sandringham Dragons team focus from their 109-point win (14.15)
* Murray Bushrangers Lachie Ash Player Focus (17.20)
* Gippsland Power Football Club’ Caleb Serong interview (19.40)
* Dandenong Stingrays’ Hayden Young interview (24.50)

Both interviews were taken at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day at Maribyrnong College, thanks to Rookie Me.

Other features:

* Preview of some of the potential top Victorian players
* Preview Tasmania Devils and the Academy teams
* All the reviews and previews from the NAB League Boys and NAB League Girls

Listen to the full podcast below:

NAB League season preview: Dandenong Stingrays

REIGNING premiers, Dandenong Stingrays are one of a number of sides with a fresh face in the Talent Manager role, as Darren Flanigan returned to the club for the 2019 season. The Stingrays claimed the ultimate TAC Cup glory last year in the club’s sixth attempt, and now under the new NAB League banner, will be keen to build on that momentum.

Flanigan said while he did not arrive until after the pre-season had started – in late November – he had liked what he had seen from the group.

“I missed the start of it (preseason), but I’ve been really impressed with the level of intensity of the group,” he said. “We’ve got some really nice athletes and we’ve got some good size, skills are always a work in progress of course, but the attitude and application of the players has been fantastic.”

The premiership had been a boost to the entire club and described it as “good promotion for the area”. While many of those premiership players have left now, a number of bottom-agers from that memorable day remain. One of them is Hayden Young, the Stingrays’ top prospect and club captain.

“Hayden’s our captain, he sets a really good example, he’s dong a really good job of driving the group and he sets really high standards on himself and his game,” Flanigan said. “I think he’s probably a little bit disappointed in his first practice match, but that was the first bit of competitiveness all preseason so we just know with the kid with his level of professionalism that’ll be just the springboard to a better season.”

One player who played in the premiership last year but spent considerable time on the sidelines due to injury, was co-captain Mitch Riordan. He has returned as a 19-year-old this season and will provide invaluable experience to the midfield group.

“Mitch had a great game last week, coming back as a 19-year-old he’ll do a little bit of work with mentoring the leadership group because he was in the leadership group last year,” Flanigan said. “So that’ll add another string to his bow. “Ned Cahill is our vice captain, he’s also learning from the front, so he and Hayden are setting really high standards.”

Speaking of Cahill, he is currently overcoming some tendonitis in his ankle, held back from testing at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day by Rookie Me.

“We could’ve tested him today but, what does that achieve?” Flanigan said. “He’s got a really long year in front of him with Nationals and we assume he’ll be playing a lot of footy with us, so it’s just a little bit of precaution with him.”

Along with Riordan, the Stingrays have brought back small forward Jai Nanscawen, forward-ruck Bailey Schmidt and medium forward Corey Ellison as the overagers this season. The other 19-year-old prospect this season is described by Flanigan as a “bit of a smoky” in John Roysmith.

“He’s been a boarder at Melbourne Grammar for the last couple years so hasn’t been in the system, but we were alerted to him, and he’s tested really well,” Flanigan said. “He’s top 10 athletically in the club, still got a little bit to learn about the speed of the game, he’s come from playing school footy which is a lot slower than what we play here, so the speed of the game is something he’s got to learn, absorbing all the knowledge he can. “We think he’s a really good prospect, especially for the second half of the year.”

As for expectations, Flanigan said there was good depth across the field in multiple positions and the side would look to make finals in 2019.

“You don’t know with such a raw list, with so few games coming back, we really don’t know how we’ll go, but some of our talls are really talented,” he said. “In this comp you need a good, deep midfield, and I think we’ve got some nice strong bodies around the footy, got a bit of speed around the outside so we think as far as team balance goes, we’ll be okay.”

Dandenong Stingrays’ season begins on Saturday, March 23 at MARS Stadium when they face the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

Team Selection: NAB League Girls – Round 2

TEAMS have brought in a number of talented players for Round 2 of the NAB League Girls competition as sides strive to either back up strong performances from Round 1, or hope to bounce back from losses in the opening round. Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons) has been named on the bench having missed the first round, while Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers) and Molly McDonald (Dandenong Stingrays) are also back into their respective sides, certain to boost the team’s chances of victory.

After two triple headers in Round 1, the six games are spread across six different venues, from Bendigo to Ballarat, Geelong to Yarrawonga, Moorabbin to Bundoora in a chance for spectators across the state to take in some terrific football action. Below are how the 12 teams have been named for the weekend’s action.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 2 – 16/03/2019
12:45pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve – Bendigo

BENDIGO PIONEERS

B: 25. K. Hazlett, 36. K. Douglass, 24. S. Oliver
HB: 28. E. Gretgrix, 40. T. Slender, 46. K. Mitchell
C: 3. E. Snell, 33. B. Heiden, 1. M. Tupper
HF: 14. A. Strahan, 30. H. Stewart, 20. D. Villiva
F: 50. M. Barton, 44. J. Jolliffe, 9. T. Miaoudis
R: 37. G. Sladden, 19. J. Finning, 4. B. Hards
Int: 34. E. Cooper, 48. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 26. C. Mitchell, 41. E. Peacock

EASTERN RANGES

B: 17. M. Kendall, 51. S. Zappia, 54. E. Odria
HB: 11. M. Edwards, 49. C. Wilsmore, 1. C. Smith
C: 29. M. Di Cosmo, 39. L. McClelland, 20. J. Richardson
HF: 26. T. Brown, 41. T. Merrett, 48. I. Khoury
F: 31. S. Collard, 46. S. Gibbs, 12. M. Taverna
R: 25. J. Grace, 33. T. Flintoff, 21. O. Meagher
Int: 44. S. Bowden, 23. M. Church, 35. L. Hilton, 16. E. Horne

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 2 – 16/03/2019
12:45pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

B: 2. Z. Denahy, 16. L. Sykes, 11. L. Donegan
HB: 5. N. Butler, 27. G. Pidgeon, 12. V. Jewell
C: 13. B. Thompson, 24. S. Molan, 3. A. Trigg
HF: 29. P. Metcalfe, 34. K. Harris, 28. I. Robson
F: 6. M. Ciavarella, 23. I. Rustman, 9. R. Saulitis
R: 35. M. Caris, 10. E. Wood, 15. C. Leonard
Int: 1. L. Condon, 20. E. Friend, 21. A. Stevens, 4. K. Tomkins

CALDER CANNONS

B: 24. K. Delia, 6. K. Reid, 36. Z. Penno
HB: 32. T. Fry, 35. I. Young, 41. G. Prespakis
C: 8. Z. Friswell, 31. K. Petrevski, 3. E. Yassir
HF: 46. G. Elarmaly, 18. T. Gillard, 34. Z. Hardiman
F: 22. M. Muller, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 2. F. Theodore
R: 49. T. Crook, 11. A. Barba, 38. L. Cocomello
Int: 1. H. Cooke, 43. C. Leahy, 25. A. Magri, 21. G. Patrikios

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
La Trobe University – Bundoora

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 32. A. Snow, 2. S. Fell, 34. M. Uwland
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 17. C. Fitzgerald
C: 6. A. Bannan, 21. E. McKenzie, 9. M. Chaplin
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 23. G. Newton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 20. C. Linssen, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 25. T. Mills
R: 1. J. Nelson, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 22. B. Gutknecht
Int: 11. M. Appleby, 16. Z. Flanigan, 30. M. Plunkett, 36. T. Smart
Emg: 8. G. Ceravolo, 24. J. Nursey, 26. M. Papachristos, 35. J. Simpson

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 2. M. Hill, 26. A. Micallef, 29. C. Rowbottom
HB: 33. E. Chamberlain, 12. A. Peck, 18. C. O’Malley
C: 34. G. Larkey, 17. N. Xenos, 22. J. Lin
HF: 1. G. Lagioia, 10. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
F: 11. M. Bertuna, 15. C. Russell, 4. E. Harley
R: 3. K. Kearns, 8. A. Porter, 32. E. James
Int: 14. G. Byrne, 9. E. Jackson, 38. D. Lloyd, 31. S. Morley, 13. T. Morton, 21. S. Reid

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
Deakin University – Geelong

GEELONG FALCONS

B: 7. M. Holdsworth, 21. A. Chapman, 44. J. Robinson
HB: 16. E. Mahoney, 32. K. Haustorfer , 11. D. Smith
C: 12. L. Gardiner, 23. L. Lesosky-Hay, 28. A. Sanderson
HF: 24. M. Skinner, 8. P. Sheppard, 1. E. Vella
F: 34. S. Milsome, 39. R. Tierney, 25. L. Ryan
R: 20. S. Hovey, 38. L. McEvoy, 18. D. Moloney
Int: 14. Z. Garth, 37. A. Lee, 46. A. McKee, 4. P. Schaap
Emg: 36. M. Featherston , 6. T. Hassett, 45. T. Lewis

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 19. H. Booth, 47. E. Williams, 7. L. Raymond
HB: 26. G. McRae, 45. M. Van Berkel, 9. M. Shaw
C: 13. H. Andrews, 8. C. Abrahams , 30. A. Rippon
HF: 2. S. Beaton, 27. N. Webber, 40. C. Robinson
F: 3. M. Gilmour, 50. G. Matser, 11. S. Walker
R: 49. G. Radford, 12. M. Fitzsimon, 17. S. Trewin
Int: 15. C. Bailey, 20. J. Chila, 16. A. Hardwick, 21. C. Prestidge
Emg: 1. S. Brisbane, 24. N. Williams

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
12:45pm
J.C. Lowe Oval – Yarrawonga

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

B: 24. H. Doohan, 44. M. Quade, 6. C. Hargreaves
HB: 14. C. Boschetti, 43. A. Williams, 10. S. Locke
C: 7. K. Adams, 19. M. Brown, 8. A. Favell
HF: 31. M. Trethowan, 45. O. Barber, 37. T. Verhoeven
F: 18. Z. Spencer, 34. E. McPherson, 40. K. Whitehead
R: 39. A. Morphett, 22. A. Richardson, 11. T. Brett
Int: 2. O. Antonello, 33. E. Mifka, 21. C. Styan , 27. J. Ward
Emg: 16. M. Jones, 20. S. Lang, 41. L. Sharp

WESTERN JETS

B: 19. A. Anthony, 11. K. O’Keefe, 20. T. Kolevski
HB: 1. M. Huta, 23. I. Pritchard, 15. N. Wright
C: 13. I. Grant, 9. R. Tripodi, 16. H. Herring
HF: 6. E. Kiely, 25. C. Saxon-Jones, 8. O. Millar
F: 5. I. Cavka, 26. C. Weston-Sirett, 14. L. Wright
R: 22. C. Singleton, 12. E. Quinn, 17. E. Georgostathis
Int: 10. T. Evans, 30. T. Kotoski, 24. J. Mwaka, 21. E. Robinson

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 2 – 17/03/2019
1:00pm
RSEA Park – Moorabbin

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 57. C. Bowen, 24. N. Borg, 44. D. Walker
HB: 38. G. Strangio, 25. S. Hartwig, 7. R. Woods
C: 42. M. Purcell, 17. B. Arnold, 26. C. Saultry
HF: 33. I. Eddey, 2. S. Rothfield, 40. A. Moloney
F: 65. E. Angelopoulos, 1. M. Denahy Maloney, 29. I. Stutt
R: 13. T. Grasso, 22. E. McNamara, 28. A. Burke
Int: 15. C. Cody, 30. W. Laing, 21. E. Turner , 58. T. Tysoe
Emg: 47. K. Lynch, 3. C. Murphy, 50. P. Staltari

DANDENONG STINGRAYS

B: 14. L. Grocock, 51. Z. Hill, 17. M. Layfield
HB: 32. J. Radford, 50. A. Nagtzaam, 31. B. Vernon
C: 21. G. Hodder, 28. T. Smith, 10. A. Jordan
HF: 48. A. Carroll, 24. A. Liddle, 20. P. Wilson-Macdonald
F: 2. S. Stratton, 49. K. McKenzie, 55. H. Thomas
R: 58. G. Howes, 12. M. McDonald, 26. I. Shannon
Int: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 23. D. Fennell, 4. J. Guy-Toogood, 53. O. Mauerhofer, 34. A. Richards

Collingwood draftee, Jordyn Allen “couldn’t think of a better club to be at”

JORDYN Allen had been in contact with a couple of clubs heading into the AFL Women’s Draft.

But she had no idea which club would pick her up. The Pies ended up selecting Allen at pick five, and the 18 year-old is overwhelmed about her opportunity to pull on the black and white.

“I kind of just burst into tears when my name got called out,” Allen said. “I didn’t expect to have that sort of reaction but I honestly couldn’t think of a better club to be at and absolutely stoked to be in the black and white.”

Allen plays a similar role to Collingwood’s reigning Best and Fairest winner, Chloe Molloy. Both are attacking half-backs, but offer versatility through the midfield as well. The Dandenong Stingrays captain hopes she can make a similar impact to Molloy.

“I offer the half-back, a bit of attacking so I look up to Chloe in terms of her versatility,” Allen said. “So just like she got put forward and through the midfield, I hope that I can perform the same role for Collingwood.”

Allen led the Stingrays this year in the TAC Cup Girls competition and was named in the best in seven out of the eight games she played. She says Dandenong has played a huge part in helping her get to where she is today.

“The Stingrays have given me so much support,” Allen said. “It’s been phenomenal. “It’s sad to leave them I guess but I’ll always be connected to the Stingrays and always be a Stingray girl at heart.”

Being the club captain enabled Allen to add a new element to her game. She developed her leadership skills remarkably and was rewarded with a chance to captain Vic Country this year. Now, she has the opportunity to one day be a leader at the Pies.

“Being a leader’s definitely another aspect of my game that you have to kind of bring beyond your footy skills and it’s been awesome, you get to know people really well,” Allen said. “You get to see a different side of people that you don’t get to really see and create those bonds you don’t usually get to make so it’s been awesome and the footy’s been amazing this year. “We’ve had some really awesome opportunities and couldn’t be more thankful for all of the people who got me here.”

At Collingwood, Allen has the opportunity to play alongside former Vic Country representative, Darcy Guttridge. The 18 year-old is looking forward to playing alongside one of her favourite teammates at an elite level.

“I played a fair bit of junior football with her and watched her get drafted last year,” Allen said. “She didn’t play due to injury but played a bit of VFL (Victorian Football League) with her this year and she’s probably one of the best teammates I could have. “She’s definitely someone I look up to and I can’t wait to play with her again.”

As a junior, Allen knew that she was always going to do whatever her brother did. So when he picked up a football, so too did Allen. Now, she will be picking up a football in the highest level of female football in Australia, in what is truly a dream come true for the talented leader.

Stingrays set out to make own history: Black

IT might have been the proverbial “monkey off the back”, but the focus from the Dandenong Stingrays’ playing group for Saturday’s TAC Cup Grand Final was purely centred around the present, rather than the past.

Stingrays coach Craig Black said everyone knew of the club’s grand final heartache – five grand finals all ending in defeat – but after a speech from Western Bulldogs defender Matthew Boyd at training during the week, the mindset was about making history.

“Matthew Boyd came in on Tuesday night and he said you respect the history, but you’re there to create your own, like the Bulldogs did (in their 2016 flag),” Black said. “The players there now, some of them weren’t even born in the 1997 Grand Final I played in. “I’m just rapt to get some reward, there’s been so many great people at our club. “Like you look at the talent managers, you had Steve Kennedy, then you had Darren Flanigan and now you’ve got Wheels’ (Mark Wheeler) who have put in so much work, then the coaches like Rob Dean eight years, Graeme Yeats 10 years and then I’m lucky enough to come in for five. So there’s been a lot of people who have done a lot of work around the club, so hopefully we can all enjoy the monkey off the back.”

Black said the emotions after the game were overwhelming with so many past players in the rooms and around the ground including Collingwood’s Adam Treloar – who is preparing for his own AFL Grand Final – GWS GIANTS’ Aiden Bonar, St Kilda’s Hunter Clark and Carlton’s Tom De Koning to name a few. The Stingrays coach said the feeling amongst the playing group was unbelievable.

“(It’s) amazing actually,” Black said. “It’s probably a mixture (of) we just wanted to get there, when the siren went it was more relief, and then the emotions you know when you see how excited the players are, you know it’s a kick the difference and it’s the end result is completely different. “Like you win by a goal or you lose by a goal, the emotions are completely different. “We’re happy today.”

Black admitted the last term was nerve-wracking with Oakleigh charging home and drawing within a goal in the final minutes.

“(I was) really, really nervous,” Black said. “That stoppage in the forward line I was like ‘don’t let the ball get over the back and we’re right’, ball gets over the back and I’m like ‘oh no’ and just our effort like Will Hamill and that just in the back half that just went ‘you know what, we’re not going to let them get this’ and I’m thinking extra time here, I’m thinking don’t concede a point, but extra time.”

The coach said the players were aware of the procedure if scores were level at the end of regular time and had been reminded on the day.

“Yeah we mentioned it during the week, and at three quarter time I just said to them, remember if it gets to 25 minutes, then it’s next score wins,” Black said.

Luckily for Black and the Stingrays, Dandenong needed just the regular hour to get the job done in what was a thrilling TAC Cup Grand Final, and one of the ages. Black described the win as a team effort.

“I thought our captain was awesome, Campbell Hustwaite,” Black said. “I just love the look of Sam Fletcher at the end of the game, like his shoulder was banged up, he had five stitches in the eye, blood all over his jumper. “That’s what footy means when you get that. “Our backs, like Will Hamill; Bailey Williams his effort to compete, Sam Sturt started the game really well. “Like anything you’ve just got to have contributors and I thought we had that today, and we were running up and down the ground when they were coming, we were looking tired, but we found a way.”

Black hopes sixth time’s a charm for Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays coach, Craig Black is hoping for a fairytale finish to his stint at the club as head coach, before joining Collingwood in a development role. Speaking at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, Black said he hoped the Stingrays could win their first flag upon their sixth attempt in the competition, but would treat the game just like any other game.

“I don’t think you can probably hide from it (the 0-5 record in grand finals),” he said. “Everyone seems to bring it up, but some of these boys like Campbell (Hustwaite, co-captain) weren’t even born when they had the first Grand Finals losses. “I think you’d have those stories with everyone, but yeah we talk about it, but it’s even better when these boys get the opportunity to come out and maybe be the first person that can do it.”

Being his last game in charge of the Shepley Oval club, Black said he had mixed emotions, but was looking forward to finishing on a high for the players.

“It’s no different really, it is when you’re looking back, you’ve been there a long time, I think I’ve been back nine years, you know every bump along the road, so I definitely will miss it, I’ve got some good memories,” he said. “But I just want to get the right result so the players, the 60 players on our list, can get some success.” On the weekend we will have probably 20 players, 21 players who it will be their last game, so hopefully they can go out with a win.”

Dandenong Stingrays head into Saturday’s decider with just one loss to their name – a six-point defeat – to their grand final opponents, Oakleigh Chargers. Black said the season had been a strong one for the club, but it would not amount to much in the long-term if they dropped the final game on the weekend.

“Obviously we got some reward for our effort, the way we played throughout the year, but as you know the TAC Cup changes every year with school kids out, nationals and academy boys missing games,” he said. “We’ve been really fortunate this year, we’ve won a couple of close ones earlier in the year and we kept rolling on, but as you know with footy once you’ve sort of won one game you just move onto the next. “We’ve been lucky that we’ve won a few, but doesn’t mean much now does it when there’s one game up for grabs?”

Asked about whether the Stingrays were nervous facing the only team that had managed to stop them singing the song after the game, Black said it was indeed the opposite view that the players and staff held.

“I look at it completely different,” he said. “I think hopefully people are probably saying the two best teams have made the grand final this year. “I know our players, and I won’t speak for Clarkey, but I’m sure he’s probably the same. “Young kids just love coming out and playing against the best talent and give themselves every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and win games of footy and hopefully end up on an AFL list. “I think the TAC Cup will get that opportunity this week and supporters will come and see the two best teams play off and that’s unbelievable for us.”

One interesting factor looking ahead to the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final is the different styles that the two clubs take with their football. While Oakleigh rely on medium-tall and small options to kick their goals, Dandenong have some tall timber up forward, as well as a number of medium talls and midfielders who float through to kick winning scores. The Stingrays mentor said he would just focus on his side’s strengths rather than just looking to nullify the strengths of the Chargers.

“I think you go into the game, both teams are into awesome form, coming into the last 8-10 weeks of footy,” Black said. “If either team can get the play on their terms it will go a long way. “I know with us, you just deal with what you’ve got. “This year is a bit of an abnormal year, we’ve got some tall players and next year we mightn’t, so pre-season you get them, you keep developing them and hopefully you get the right team.”

Another aspect that comes into play which is unique for this game is the fact that Oakleigh will field four top-age players who are eligible to be recruited by Collingwood under the father-son and Next Generation Academy. Black, who will try and nullify their impact this weekend, will help develop those players, if selected by the Magpies, when he heads to the Holden Centre at the conclusion of the season. Black said he looked forward to the role, but for now, the likes of Isaac Quaynor, Atu Bosenavulagi, Bailey Wraith and Will Kelly were all opposition players.

“I think looking at the last sort of eight weeks and stuff, we’re really still leaving them in the TAC,” Black said. “The TAC Cup is a wonderful breeding ground for developing young players and obviously Oakleigh have a terrific track record of doing that over 25 years and even the last few years so really while the young NGA players are still in their TAC Cup, you sort of watch them from afar and let them develop in their own program and once the season finishes we’ll start doing a lot more with them.”

Black has his own Next Generation Academy player at the Stingrays – the exciting Toby Bedford who has been in strong form of late, and Melbourne will have first choice to select him once a bid comes in at November’s National AFL Draft.

“Yeah Tobes has been great,” Black said. “I think Clarkey (Leigh Clarke) mentioned before about how he had Vic Country, and then he was away at Melbourne Grammar for the school footy, so it’s that challenge when he gets back. “He boards at Melbourne Grammar so when he gets to training, one thing we know is with Tobes is his effort  and his intensity, he’s always up and about. “The players love it when he’s around, he’s a cheeky little thing and he plays on the edge at times and we love him for it.”

Other players who have shot into draft contention from “left field” include a newcomer to the Stingrays program, and one who had only played school footy prior to a month ago.

“We’ve probably got the one who stands out at the moment is Sam Sturt, you know who’s been playing at Peninsula and has come played four games of TAC Cup footy,” Black said. “Everyone’s watched him about as many times as I have. “It’s just people like that, and that’s what this competition gives, you know if someone is playing good football from left field, these sort of programs can give them the chance of fulfilling their talent as well. “People like Zac Foot who has come in, who wasn’t fortunate enough to play in our 17s or 16s or 15s program, come through as an 18 year-old and play as Vic Country. “Just the opportunities and everyone, I think if players weren’t improving we wouldn’t be in the position we are, and that’s lead by our captain and our leaders who are really driving high standards individually and as a team each week.”

Black thanked the support staff and development coaches around him who were always on hand to assist, and help develop these players from the start of the season until the end. Black himself has come through the program, captaining Dandenong to the 1997 TAC Cup Grand Final, returning to the club and having lead the Stingrays for the past five seasons.

“We’re lucky enough to be the head coaches of the TAC but I know we’ve got wonderful assistants and support staff around us that help out and you know, if you’re running late or can’t make it a night, they’re more than happy to step in, so it’s wonderful,” Black said. “I think it’s only going to get bigger and bigger with the the TAC Cup programs and getting chances at AFL, working with these wonderful young men that are getting opportunities, it’s great I think.”

After narrowly missing out on making the 2017 decider, going down to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons in the preliminary final at GMHBA Stadium 12 months ago, Black admitted he was nervous heading into the clash with Sandringham Dragons last weekend.

“I was really nervous going into last week’s game because you want your players to have the opportunity to experience Grand Final week, I mean they don’t do press conferences for prelims and that sort of stuff,” Black said. “So when we won this week is just all about enjoying it. “We said to our players after the game, ‘enjoy it, you might never play in a Grand Final again’ so we’re really thankful, and excited.”

It is not often a team that finishes top of the table with just one loss for the season heads into the TAC Cup Grand Final as potential underdogs. But with Oakleigh Chargers having won their past three games by an average of 101 points, including a 93-point demolition of the second placed Gippsland Power last weekend, the Chargers seem to be the in-form side, if that is even possible against a side that has won 13 on the trot. Black laughed off the matter of favouritism, because all that mattered was what happened from the first bounce to the final siren.

“I’ve been asked this question a few times and I know we’re going into the game that we can win the game of footy so I don’t know if favourites and that really matter like, it doesn’t bother me one little bit,” Black said. “Two really good teams in really good form are going to get a crack at winning a Grand Final and I’m sure I’ll speak for the Stingrays but I know we’ll go in with a lot of confidence. “Yeah we’ve got to take our chances when we get them, because I think both teams are going to get some really good chances and probably control the ball for periods of time. “Whoever makes the most of their opportunities (will likely win), but I think it’s going to be a fantastic game of footy, or I hope it is. “We’re just really excited about giving 23 players from our area an opportunity to play on Grand Final day and on Foxtel and on the big stage.”

Dandenong Stingrays take on Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park from 12.05pm on Saturday for the 2018 TAC Cup premiership.

Hustwaite lets his “football do the talking” ahead of TAC Cup decider

DISAPPOINTED that he missed out on a draft combine invitation, Dandenong Stingrays’ co-captain Campbell Hustwaite is letting his footy “do the talking”. The Stingrays leader spoke at the TAC Cup Grand Final press conference, of his pride in leading such a talented group of players throughout the season and how he hoped through his own recent form he could prove a point to AFL club recruiters ahead of this year’s National AFL Draft.

“I sort of used it as a bit of motivation,” Hustwaite said, of missing out on a combine invitation. “To find that out I was a bit disappointed on the day, and probably for a week or so after it. “But then I thought there’s no better way than to play some good footy and prove to everyone else that I feel like I should have had the opportunity too. “But I’m not fussed now and I’ll just let my footy do the talking for the last few weeks and hopefully do the same on the weekend.”

Dandenong Stingrays coach Craig Black said coaches always want as many players as possible to test themselves against the best at the draft combines, and admitted they would always want more regardless of the number selected.

“Obviously I think it’s one of those things, if you had five players, you’d want six,” he said. “If you had 15, you’d want 16.” I think the season that Campbell’s had has been quite remarkable, but just his attitude probably from getting a knock back, his form since then he’s probably averaging 27/28 touches a game. “Half a dozen tackles and clearances. “I know Campbell just lets his football do the talking, but the way he leads our football club is outstanding. “The respect he’s got amongst our group, we just hope like anyone on our list that if they keep playing well, they keep putting their names up there, and a club gives him an opportunity.”

Hustwaite said the captaincy was something he had enjoyed in season 2018, and while some players such as Bailey Williams had been in the spotlight more than others, it would take a team effort to defeat the Oakleigh Chargers in Saturday’s decider.

“It’s a bit of an honour for me, we’ve got a bit of talent in this side,” he said. “I know if I can just lead them on the right way, they’ll do most of the work themselves. “We’ve got star players like Bailey Williams who’s probably first round, he’ll do his own thing but it’s all about the team, it’s not about one player, it’s about 23 of us going out there and getting the job done.”

The Dandenong midfielder said there were a number of players who had built great form over the course of the season, and that had contributed to the Stingrays winning the minor premiership and reaching the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

“I think Zac Foot was a big one,” Hustwaite said. “In pre-season he was sort of just the newbie and not many of the boys knew him, but he’s come across in leaps and bounds, but even Sam Fletcher coming back from injury. “It could have been easy for him to plod a bit because he’s got a good tag but he’s pushed himself harder than ever and he’s played a really few good months of footy.”

It might be Hustwaite’s first TAC Cup Grand Final, but the Rosebud product has more than enough experience when it comes to the last match of the season.

“I was lucky enough to play in a pretty talented team with a few of the Stingrays boys,” the Dandenong leader said. “(I) played in four (grand finals), back-to-back-to-back and was lucky enough to win them all. “Coming into this it’s a bit different, it’s nothing like junior football finals, but got the experience on the big stage, but I’m sure this will take it up another couple of notches.”

Having that experience of leading up to the big day, Hustwaite said he would try and keep his preparation as normal and structured as possible.

“Yeah so for me, it’s just throughout the whole year it’s just been getting the right balance from school and football,” he said. “This week will be no different, maybe even football takes an upper leg just for this week. “Last few days I’ve just been making sure I’m getting my body right for the upcoming week. I’ve taken the day off school today just to do the right thing by football, but not much changes really. “Keep the same preparation for the weekend, hopefully try not change too much. I’m a bit superstitious with some things so I’ll just stick to my routine and hopefully works again.”

As for a potential match-up, Hustwaite said the depth of both midfields meant each player would likely line-up alongside multiple opponents.

“I don’t see one match-up specific for me, but I know they’ve got five quality midfielders and talent all around the ground so we’ll be looking to challenge ourselves for the whole day,” he said. “We learnt in Round 5 you can’t lapse for a few minutes because they will make you pay, so on the weekend it’s just all about nullifying their talent I guess and backing ourselves in against their mids who comes up on the better side on the day.”

Dandenong Stingrays takes on Oakleigh Chargers from 12.05pm on Saturday, with the Stingrays chasing their first flag from their sixth attempt, while Oakleigh will look to add to their current tally of four premierships.