A final minute goal from the University of Sydney sunk the Stingrays in a rematch of last year’s grand final at University Oval on Saturday.
The goal completed a comeback from the University, which started early in the third quarter as missed opportunities came back to haunt the Rays.
The Rays, who were up by 20 points at halftime, only put away 5 behinds in the second quarter despite enormous pressure on the University’s 50. These mistakes kept the University of Sydney in the hunt, as the Rays remained scoreless in the third quarter to ensure the pressure was on the competition leaders.
Stingrays coach, Tracey Kick, lamented the team were missing a few key players for the clash, including GWS player Jacinda Barclay, but maintained they still had plenty of capable players on the park.
“Of course [the missing players] are important because they are experienced and have excellent skills,” Kick said. “But I’m a firm believer that the team is 18 players that have to play like a team on the oval, and if they don’t do that on occasion, that is where we break down.”
Though, for the first quarter the Stingrays played exceptionally. They put away three goals before the University of Sydney could blink, and while the University managed to fight back, a strong defence from the Rays ensured they only conceded three behinds. The quarter finished with the Rays in front; 18 (3.0) to 3 (0.3).
The Stingrays continued to apply the pressure throughout the second quarter. Play rarely left the University’s defensive 50, however, sloppy marking and kicking from the Rays made sure that nothing substantial came of it. They only kicked 5 behinds, despite keeping the University scoreless, and maintained the lead going into the second half. The quarter ended with the Rays on 23 (3.5) to the University of Sydney’s 3 (0.3).
The lack of goals in this quarter was put down to “one dimensional” footy by Captain, Jemma Still. “We just started looking directly for [Melissa Khoury] in forward line,” said Still. “We didn’t really look for anyone else. We’ve got some other great players down there; but we didn’t capitalise”
This resulted in a quick turnaround of momentum in the third quarter. The University scored a goal within the first minute of play’ resumption and soon another goal further narrowed the margin. The Stingrays struggled to maintain possession for long and while they gained a free kick within their attacking 50 late in the half, they were unable to make anything of it. The Rays finished the quarter scoreless with only a goal’s difference between the two sides; Stingrays 23 (3.5) to the University of Sydney’s 19 (2.7).
The final quarter started evenly, though good kicking and marking from the Rays gained them early momentum. This eventually resulted in a goal for the Rays as they widened the difference to 12 points. Though the University soon replied with a goal of their own and another behind to come within 3 of the visitors. This lead to a heated final passage of play which ended when the University of Sydney kicked a goal from 30 metres out with less than 30 seconds on the clock to clinch the win.
After the game, Kick described the loss as “disappointing”, but remained positive.
“I’m not concerned. I just think let’s look at it, let’s learn from it, and get them next time,” Kick said.
This week, the Stingrays will take on the fifth place Western Wolves in a home game at Henson Park.
Goal Kickers: M. Khoury 2, R. Mcgee, J. Still
Best Players: I. Nielsen, M. Collier, P. Monahan, H. Turnbull, M. Khoury, A. Bidou
SYDNEY UNIVERSITY BOMBERS
Goal Kickers: R. Stack, S. Walker, M. Haynes, C. Scrimshaw
Best Players: M. Haynes, N. Barr, E. McKinnon, J. Lew, K. Sutcliffe, N. Wiggins