DANDENONG Stingrays recorded a four-goal victory over North Ballarat Rebels at Shepley Oval in Dandenong on Saturday.
The Stingrays emerged as a serious TAC Cup premiership contender as they handed the ladder-leading Rebels their third loss of the season, 15.13 (103) to 12.7 (79).
The Rebels won the third term but the class of Lachie Whitfield, Jason Pongracic and Ryan Marks-Logan proved too much.
Whitfield and Ryan Morrison booted three majors and Robert Hill, Billy Rolfe and Nick Tuddenham were also solid performers.
"We had a pleasing win and I thought we played close to our best," Stingrays coach Graeme Yeats said. "You never say that you have played your best but the areas we've been looking for improvement which is sustained workrate we were pretty good."
The Rebels were best served by Kyle Hendy and Jake Neade.
Yeats said the Stingrays had set themselves for a big performance against the Rebels who have been the pacesetters in the TAC Cup this year. "We always respect Ballarat and it was a really good standard of gam.
"We're not getting ahead of ourselves by any means. We're continually looking for improvement and if we achieve incremental improvement across the board we're happy."
The Stingrays have this weekend off before travelling to Wangaratta to play the Murray Bushrangers on Sunday, August 19 before closing out their season against Geelong Falcons at Highgate Recreation Reserve the following Saturday.
Yeats said the Stingrays' players would not represent their local clubs this weekend with their young bodies needing the rest.
Stingrays star Billy Hartung has nominated for the pool of 17 year olds eligible to be considered for the Greater Western Sydney Giants incentive trading rules.
Under the list establishment rules for the Giants that were approved by the AFL Commission, the Giants do not have the right to claim any of the players who have nominated, but can trade with any of the other 17 AFL clubs for those teams to have selection rights from this pool of players. This is the final year of the incentive trading rules and a total of two selections can be traded by the Giants to the other teams in the competition.
Hartung, who is from Mornington, is a member of the Australian Institute of Sport AFL academy and is one of 16 youngsters who have nominated for the pool.
"He is going to be a very good player," Yeats said.