Stingrays stave off Bushrangers challenge

Pakenham's Tahj De La Rue has had some exposure in the midfield in recent weeks. (Gary Sissons: 417599)

By Jonty Ralphsmith

A strong first half helped Dandenong get the better of Murray 13.12 90 to 8.11 59 in round 14 of the boys Coates Talent League at Shepley Oval.

Bottom-aged debutante Archie Leclerc kicked three first quarter goals as the Stingrays set the game up with a five goal to zero first quarter.

The 190cm forward finished with four goals and four marks in a promising first outing in Rays colours.

Trailing by 55 points at halftime, the Bushrangers came hard in the third quarter in a game between two sides missing its top-line talent to the under-18s national championships.

The visitors closed to within seven points early in the last quarter, before fourth quarter specialist Noah Hibbins-Hargreaves kicked two goals in three minutes and three in the final quarter to help arrest the momentum.

A bottom-aged forward/winger part of the Vic Country squad, Hibbins-Hargreaves was not selected for the weekend’s match against the Allies but pushed his case for selection this Sunday against Vic Metro.

He finished with 21 disposals, four goals, seven marks and five tackles in a complete performance.

The absence of co-captains Harvey Langford and Cooper Hynes allowed others to take centre stage.

Ben Hopkins blended his contest work with trademark dash, and bottom-agers Jasper Russell and Toby Sinnema arguably playing their best game at the level.

Meanwhile, Gippsland Power’s boys clash with Tasmania was postponed at late notice due to flight delays caused by poor weather prohibiting Tasmania from travelling north.

“We will work with both programs to look to play the match at a later date should fixturing allow,” a statement on the Coates League website read.

“More details will be provided in due course.”

Both Dandenong and Gippsland girls programs had a bye.