The Dandenong Stingrays claimed their first TAC Cup premiership from a sixth Grand Final appearance with a thrilling six-point defeat of the Oakleigh Chargers at IKON Park on Saturday.
The Stingrays led by 29 points with less than 17 minutes remaining in the match before Oakleigh reeled off four straight goals to ensure a tense finish. Dandenong’s defensive pressure – so strong for the majority of the contest – bent but didn’t break in the run to the final siren, just managing to hold off the furious late Chargers surge and prevail 12.8 (80) to 11.8 (74).
* CLICK HERE to watch a replay of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.
The triumph was sweet reward for the Stingrays, who had previously suffered TAC Cup Grand Final defeats in 1997, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2013 since joining the competition in its inaugural year of 1992. Dandenong head coach Craig Black was the club’s co-captain for that first loss in 1997 and this time led his players to glory in his last match in charge before taking up an AFL coaching role with Collingwood.
Oakleigh was unable to add to premiership victories in 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2015, finishing runner-up for the second time after also losing a Grand Final in 2011. Chargers playmaker Matthew Rowell won the medal for best-on-ground in defeat though, recording game-highs of 32 disposals, 11 marks and seven inside-50s.
Minor premiers the Stingrays finish the 2018 season with just one loss to their name – by six points to Oakleigh in Round 5 – and some of their most consistent performers throughout the campaign again stood up when it mattered.
Co-captains Campbell Hustwaite (19 disposals, game-high 10 tackles and five inside-50s) and Mitch Riordan (14, nine and five clearances) along with Sam Fletcher (27 disposals) were instrumental in giving Dandenong the upper hand at stoppages.
Lachlan Stenning (21 disposals and six rebound-50s) and Will Hamill (15) had important moments in defence, and Sam Sturt (15, six marks and two goals), Zac Foot (14 and two goals) and Bailey Williams (12 and two goals) were threatening inside 50 for the Stingrays, while Riley Bowman (13, 21 hitouts and one goal) was arguably the best big man on the ground.
Rowell was the most prominent player for head coach Leigh Clarke’s Chargers, but they were also well served by skipper Noah Answerth (27 disposals and six rebound-50s), Will Golds (26 and six marks), Riley Collier-Dawkins (19) and Dylan Williams (four goals).
Dandenong set up their match-winning buffer on the back of intense pressure (winning the tackle count 67-62) and Oakleigh regularly turned the ball over due to a lack of polish by hand and foot. The Chargers won 66 more disposals for the game, but the Stingrays crucially still managed to generate 51 inside-50s to 47 thanks to a quick, long and direct method of ball movement once the ball had been won back.
Oakleigh took a seven-point lead into quarter time but Dandenong controlled the second term, booting four unanswered goals to establish a 14-point advantage at the main break. The Stingrays extended this to a game-high 30 points midway through the third stanza before a see-sawing period of play gave way to a conclusion that would have had their faithful supporters’ hearts in mouths until the very end.
— #TACCup / #TACCupGirls (@TACCup) September 22, 2018
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.1 6.2 10.7 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.2 3.6 6.8 11.8 (74)
Dandenong Stingrays: Foot 2, Williams 2, Sturt 2, McDonnell 2, Bowman, Bedford, Cahill, Bayne
Oakleigh Chargers: Williams 4, Anderson 2, Collier-Dawkins, Robertson, Bosenavulagi, Gasper, Ross
Dandenong Stingrays: Fletcher 27, Stenning 21, Hustwaite 19, Plumridge 17, Sturt 15, Hamill 15, Foot 14, Frawley 14, H. Young 14, Cahill 14
Oakleigh Chargers: Rowell 32, Answerth 27, Golds 26, Collier-Dawkins 19, Kelly 19, Ross 19, Ayton-Delaney 18, O’Neill 18, Rowbottom 18, Bosenavulagi 17
Grand Final stats leaders:
|Matthew Rowell||Oakleigh Chargers||19|
|Noah Answerth||Oakleigh Chargers||16|
|Trent Bianco||Oakleigh Chargers||15|
|Sam Fletcher||Dandenong Stingrays||14|
|Campbell Hustwaite||Dandenong Stingrays||13|
|Lachlan Stenning||Dandenong Stingrays||12|
|Sam Sturt||Dandenong Stingrays||12|
|Riley Bowman||Dandenong Stingrays||11|
|William Hamill||Dandenong Stingrays||11|
|Riley Collier-Dawkins||Oakleigh Chargers||11|
|Will Golds||Oakleigh Chargers||15|
|Jack Ross||Oakleigh Chargers||15|
|Matthew Rowell||Oakleigh Chargers||13|
|Sam Fletcher||Dandenong Stingrays||13|
|Noah Answerth||Oakleigh Chargers||11|
|Xavier O’Neill||Oakleigh Chargers||11|
|James Rowbottom||Oakleigh Chargers||11|
|Joseph Ayton-Delaney||Oakleigh Chargers||10|
|James Jordon||Oakleigh Chargers||10|
|Lachlan Stenning||Dandenong Stingrays||9|
|Matthew Rowell||Oakleigh Chargers||11|
|Will Golds||Oakleigh Chargers||6|
|Sam Sturt||Dandenong Stingrays||6|
|Riley Bowman||Dandenong Stingrays||6|
|Bailey Williams||Dandenong Stingrays||5|
|Campbell Hustwaite||Dandenong Stingrays||10|
|Mitchell Riordan||Dandenong Stingrays||9|
|Jake Frawley||Dandenong Stingrays||8|
|Jake Gasper||Oakleigh Chargers||5|
|Atu Bosenavualagi||Oakleigh Chargers||5|
|Riley Bowman||Dandenong Stingrays||22|
|Stephen Cumming||Dandenong Stingrays||11|
|Jay Robertson||Oakleigh Chargers||10|
|Bailey Williams||Dandenong Stingrays||9|
|Will Kelly||Oakleigh Chargers||7|
|2018 LEADING GOALKICKERS||Last Rnd||Total|
|Jake Gasper||Oakleigh Chargers||1||42|
|Hudson Garoni||Murray Bushrangers||DNP||38|
|Charlie Wilson||GWV Rebels||DNP||37|
|Noah Gown||Gippsland Power||DNP||31|
|Dylan Williams||Oakleigh Chargers||4||26|