NAB Girls - Round 5 Match Report

on 06 March 2021
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The Dandenong Stingrays girls side suffered its first loss of the long awaited 2021 season when it faced fellow undefeated side, the Oakleigh Chargers on Friday night.

Under lights at Linen House in Seaford, it was a match that saw several lead changes, keeping the big crowd on the edge of their seats, but it was ultimately the Chargers who held on to secure the 4.3 (27) to 4.2 (26) victory.

The Rays got off to a slow start, not registering a score in the opening term, while Oakleigh kicked two of its four majors.

But the intent in the second term was clear when the Rays came back from the first interval, immediately lifting the intensity around the contest.

Amber Clarke got the first for Dandenong, slimming the lead and appearing like a defenders nightmare inside 50.

At the other end of the ground, Zoe Hill and Jaide Anthony loomed as a colossal road block in the way of Oakleigh, as the pair relentlessly sling-shotted the ball out of the defensive half.

Trailing by a straight kick and change at the main break, the Rays needed a lift in the premiership term.

It came in spades from livewire Amber Clarke, the electric small snagged two crucial majors in the opening three minutes of the third quarter.

The Rays took the lead off the back of Clarke’s second, but it was snatched back just before the siren in the third term by the well-drilled Chargers outfit.

With a two-point buffer at the final change, it was clear that it was going to be a classic.

And the final period didn’t disappoint.

Ashleigh Richards’ mark at half-forward quickly turned into a major for the Dandenong side, as she was escorted to the top of the square by the umpire.

But unfortunately for the Stingrays, the Richards major wasn’t enough to extend the unbeaten run in 2021, with the Chargers hitting the scoreboard half-way through the final term and ultimately holding on for a tight win.

Dandenong coach Nick Cox believes the Chargers were simply cleaner in the early stages of the match, and the slow start is going to be something he and his coaching staff will address during the week.

“We just weren’t clean enough around the footy, and they (Oakleigh) executed the way they wanted to,” he said.

“We can look back and blame that, whether it would’ve been a different outcome I don’t know.

“Our start was something that needs to be improved on, no doubt,” Cox said.

In the midst of a great team effort, Dandenong had its standouts. Amber Clarke was dynamite wherever she went, while Jaide Anthony and Zoe Hill also had great nights.

“Amber (Clarke) was really good tonight, she was sensational in every position she played,” Cox said.

“Even though she has been contributing already (in previous weeks), I think she went to another level tonight and really stood out with her class and ball-winning ability.

“I thought in the first quarter we rolled the dice a little, our coaching style has been to be proactive, but we went back to being more one-on-one and it evened up the contest.

“Jaide and Zoe gave us a lot of drive down back and I was really pleased with their efforts.

“Jaide after half-time went and played a bit of inside-mid and was good there too, for their progression and development it was a really big tick.”

While it is only early in the season, Cox states it’s always good to get a gauge on where the side sits against top calibre opposition –  especially on the cusp of a big month of footy for the girls.

“It was really good to see where we stand in the scheme of things against top end opposition,” he said.

“Being a young and inexperienced side we learnt a few things tonight and that’s the program.

“They were a lot cleaner across the board in a lot of aspects; we allowed four goals from the goal square, and if we fix that up –  we will be a really competitive side going forward,” Cox said.

The Dandenong girls side gear up to travel to Tasmania in the upcoming week, before a flurry of matches inside a short period of time over the next month.