The Dandenong Stingrays travelled down to Morwell on Saturday afternoon for the Round 1 clash against Gippsland. Having participated in a practice game at Frankston only weeks earlier, it was always going to be interesting to see what differences were presented by the two teams. Dandenong took control early and developed a significant 33 point lead by half time. The game looked theirs to lose then, but Power didn’t give up and consecutive goals to Irving Mosquito late in the fourth quarter got the margin back to 14 points. Although the Stingrays held their nerve for the final minutes and finished with a deserving 16 point win.
Here are the most notable players on the day:
LUKE DAVIES-UNIACKE | DANDENONG STINGRAYS
MID | 08/06/1999 | 187CM | 85KG
Davies-Uniacke made an early statement on Saturday that he is going to be one of the premier inside midfielders in the TAC Cup during 2017. The Rye junior dominated the stoppages and contested situations throughout the day, constantly winning the ball first and extracting or quickly getting boot onto leather. He used his bigger body to perfection by getting himself between the drop and his opponent. Of his 30 disposals, 11 were contested with nine clearances, leaving him the most influential player on the ground.
OSCAR CLAVARINO | DANDENONG STINGRAYS
KPD | 22/05/1999 | 195CM | 86KG
After some experimentation forward during the preseason, Clavarino was back to his familiar defensive post for Round 1. While it took him time to get into the game, he lifted in the third quarter when Gippsland were beginning to threaten. He read the ball before his opponents on numerous occasions in the second half and took important intercept marks. He used the ball well and was a calm figure deep when the ball went in his area.
RILEY D’ARCY | DANDENONG STINGRAYS
FWD | 28/12/1999 | 189CM | 90KG
Riley D’arcy is a name that will be creating a stir for Vic Country selectors as a lead up forward target in the National Championships. He presents hard and gets in the eye line of the midfielders who generally give him an opportunity. He protects the ball in the air with his 90kg frame and makes it difficult for a defender to get a fist in. He kicked three first half goals and is currently the Rays most dangerous option inside 50.
BAILEY MORRISH | DANDENONG STINGRAYS
DEF | 18/05/1998 | 185CM | 81KG
Many believed Bailey Morrish to be the unluckiest player not to find himself on an AFL list after last year’s draft and he looks ready to prove the recruiters wrong. He started in his customary half back position and looked a class above. As we saw last year, he reads the ball superbly in the air and has sticky hands for his size. He possesses a long left hoof and is more than capable of hitting a target with it, as justified by his 91% kicking efficiency on Saturday.
DYLAN MORRIS | DANDENONG STINGRAYS
FWD/MID | 21/06/1999 | 176CM | 70KG
Dylan Morris was one who caught the eye on numerous times for Dandenong, especially inside the forward arc. He was a difficult match up, winning the ball on the ground and presenting to dangerous areas on the lead. He ended the game with four vital goals and it could easily have been more with three behinds as well. He won the ball in dangerous areas up the ground too and distributed it inside 50 on seven occasions. He only has a slight frame, but is clean and possesses x-factor that is potentially match defining.
SEAN MASTERSON | GIPPSLAND POWER
KPD | 23/09/1998 | 192CM | 78KG
After starting the 2017 preseason forward, Masterson found himself back in defence for Round 1, a position that saw him generate plenty of AFL interest in 2016. He was thrown into the deep end too, going straight to the highly rated and much taller Tom De Koning. While De Koning managed to kick a couple of goals, Masterson did a stellar job in keeping him to just six possessions. When the going got tight in the final quarter, Masterson stood up offensively with three contested intercept marks late in the game.
KYLE REID | GIPPSLAND POWER
KPD | 12/08/2000 | 192CM | 88KG
When Dandenong was attacking Gippsland with constant inside 50 entrances in the first half, underage key defender Kyle Reid did a mighty job in ensuring the deficit didn’t get out of hand. He read the incoming ball brilliantly in the air and showed some elite intercept qualities. He was calm under pressure and controlled the backline despite being one of the youngest there. All of his seven marks (three of which were contested) came in the first two quarters, an indication of just how dominant the Rays were early.
CHANGKUOTH JIATH | GIPPSLAND POWER
MID/FWD | 13/06/1999 | 185CM | 74KG
It is only a matter of time before this kid tears a game apart and when he does, it will be spectacular. There really isn’t much he can’t do, it is just a matter of putting it all together. He gathered 17 disposals on Saturday and while his kicking was a little off, he still managed to show so many of his exciting attributes. He is particularly strong overhead and has an enormous leap, while his footy smarts are developing with every game. Had he converted his three behinds, we could have been talking him up as the game breaker.
Other Notable Performances:
Ali Zijai (Dandenong), Angus Paterson (Dandenong), Mitch Cotter (Dandenong), Callum Porter (Gippsland), Liam Carroll (Gippsland), Kim Drew (Gippsland).