Preview: Murray Bushrangers vs Dandenong Stingrays
Norm Minns Oval will showcase a battle between top eight teams when the Murray Bushrangers go head to head with the Dandenong Stingrays on Sunday afternoon.
Although the sides sit at seventh and third respectively on the ladder, only one win separates the two teams on points. Therefore, the match promises to be a thrilling contest that could produce any of many variables.
These two sides met earlier in the year during the competitions Country Round. At that stage in the season, the tides were turned and Murray were in fine form sitting above Dandenong on the ladder. As a result, the Bushrangers ran away with a 17 point victory.
Murray Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier was able to extract quite a bit from the contest for their upcoming encounter.
“They (Dandenong) are a very disciplined team, they are a very hard running team and their strength is without a doubt their midfield. Their midfield is going to be strengthened even further now with the return of national’s players and private schoolers, so they are going to be a very formidable outfit,” Ogier said.
Dandenong Stingrays coach Graeme Yeats was very open about what he had learnt from the match and reiterated the significance of the midfield.
“We know that Murray’s midfield can be dangerous if we are not organised and prepared to work for each other at stoppages. They worked harder on the spread than us and we will need to match their efforts in this area. They are very solid down the spine and very even on the outside.
“This will be a game that will be won by the team that is prepared to gut run for longer. We are getting better as a group, but every game is another challenge for us to work on the key performance measures that are the hallmarks of good consistent teams. We are very much looking forward to the opportunity to pitt ourselves against a very tough and well prepared opponent,” Yeats said.
The Murray Bushrangers will be hit hard this weekend with injuries and players required to fulfil other commitments. The team will see a shift in seven spots across the ground leading into the match.
“We have lost one of our vice captains Jordan Taylor who has done a hamstring and had been really important for us across halfback and we have also lost Josh Prudden who is the captain of Assumption College and has gone interstate to play a game with the school. We have lost our ruckman Iain McGillivray and Ben Vile our centre-half back who are playing for Scotch College in the State Final over in Canberra.
“Our IN’s are Tom Clurey who represented Vic Country this year and after some soreness will be coming back into the team. We also have Tom Hargreaves to come back from Collingwood VFL and Josh Porter to come back from an ankle injury,” Ogier said.
Alternatively, regardless of changes throughout the season, Yeats is happy with the team that will be leading the Dandenong Stingrays out onto the park on Sunday and into the finals race.
“The most notable out for us is Taylor Garner who has just undergone shoulder surgery. Taylor has enjoyed great success this year and we wish him well for the future. We are in pretty good shape overall. We have not been able to get our best out every week but that is the battle that all clubs face form week to week. We will welcome back Lewis Pierce [ruck] and Jake Calvert [key forward] this week so our balance of run and power position players is balancing up nicely.”
Recent weeks have seen the Stingrays work their way into a top four position, with a great win over an inform North Ballarat side last round. Yeats believes his side is on the right track, but still has room to improve.
“We have always had the confidence and belief in our playing list, and if we could stay healthy we will be very competitive against any team in the comp. In saying this, we have to be more consistent from quarter to quarter to really match it with the best and that is definitely something we have focused on and we are starting to see the trends work our way if the effort across the team is executed out on the ground.
“Our physical management of the player group is always key to getting the best results at this time of year and we think it is coming together. We have been resting players based on loads and that has helped inject freshness into the team and there is real competition for spots at the moment.
We are challenging our players to get better every week and that is always a work in progress,” Yeats said.
The Murray Bushrangers have slipped down the ladder in recent weeks. Look back to Round 12 and the side had a place in the top four. Darren Ogier is well aware of the significance the final two weeks play in the competition.
“It’s pretty exciting the ladder, from a finals perspective to see where people are going to end up because between third and seventh, I think there is only one game separating the teams . So the last two games are extremely important as they are going to define your season and it’s going to affect ladder positions. If we get two wins then we are a good chance of getting into a double chance for finals and if we lose the two then we are a good chance, depending on other results, to miss the eight all together,” Ogier said.
Murray Bushrangers vs Dandenong Stingrays
Sunday 19th August – 1pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta