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VFL: Dunstan digs deep to clinch win

Bullish midfielder Luke Dunstan led the charge as the Zebras held on in a thriller. - St Kilda Saints,VFL
Bullish midfielder Luke Dunstan led the charge as the Zebras held on in a thriller.
We were able to respond and show good resilience, grit and fight.
Aaron Hamill

A steely final-quarter performance from Luke Dunstan has helped Sandringham clinch a thrilling victory over Frankston at RSEA Park. 

Dunstan racked up 32 disposals across the afternoon  12 of which were gathered in the last term – as the Zebras clung to the lead against the wind.

The inside bull led all comers, combining once again with veteran David Armitage (25 disposals, nine tackles) to guide the Zebras to a tense victory.

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Sandringham was held goalless in the second and fourth terms and failed to register a score in the last, but dug deep to ward off the aggressive Dolphins and secure the four points.

Frankston accumulated 23 inside-50s in the final term alone, but only managed 2.3 thanks to the midfield duo and defenders Nathan Brown and Brandon White.

Brown finished with 19 disposals and six marks, but it was the small, unrewarded efforts on the stats sheet and marshalling of the back six that defined the stalwart defender’s game.

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Similar attributes characterised Nick Coffield’s performance (16 disposals, one goal), and his composure across half-back marked what was arguably his best performance for the year.

Sandringham coach Aaron Hamill was proud of the way his side were able to dig their heels in when the game was on Frankston's terms.

“When you break the game down, we were challenged significantly,” Hamill told saints.com.au.

“We got taught a good lesson early – Frankston hunted us up really strongly, they were fierce and we were outworked – but the way we were able to respond and show good resilience, grit and fight, which is not always easy to do, was really pleasing.”

For our backs to hold on really strongly and our mids to get things in nice and tight with five minutes to go was great.”

Frankston’s ferocity and aggressive use of the corridor prevented the Zebras from using the ball well and gather uncontested marks, but Sandringham’s ability to remain within the contest and match their opposition’s physicality was testament to their resolve.

The Zebras hit the scoreboard to great effect in the third term after a shaky opening half, piling on six goals to two, with unconventional forward Sam Rowe and Bailey Rice finishing their afternoons with two goals apiece.

Both competed well in the air, particularly in the third term when the game was in the balance, with their ability to bring the ball to ground paramount to Sandringham’s scoreboard presence.

Robbie Young didn’t capitalise with a goal, but finished the game strongly after injuring his ankle midway through the second term, while Nicholas Hind and Ed Phillips contributed well in the back half with their deliberate ball use.

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Billy Longer again showed his ascendancy in the ruck contests over fellow Saint Sam Alabakis with 52 hit-outs, giving the likes of Dunstan and Armitage first use.

While the two have been unable to break into the senior line-up regularly this season, yesterday’s efforts against Frankston have done their chances of a senior re-call no harm.

Standing up in the clinches when it mattered – Dunstan’s long-range goal in the third term was one of the match’s key moments – highlighted the potential for both to jump into St Kilda’s line-up, giving Alan Richardson options for the upcoming clash against West Coast.

Now with a 2-2 ledger, Sandringham will hope to further their tally against Collingwood next Sunday at Victoria Park.

SANDRINGHAM  5.5  5.9  11.12  11.12 (78)
FRANKSTON 
3.1  8.1  10.1  12.4 (76)

GOALS
Sandringham:
Rice 2, Rowe 2, Armitage, Coffield, Dunstan, Gilbert, Owens, D. Seccull. Wright
Frankston:
Zijai 4, Tatapu 3, D’Arcy, Fordham, Grace, Lok. Styles

BEST
Sandringham:
Dunstan, Armitage, Rice, Coffield, Longer, Hind, Rowe, White
Frankston:
Zijai, Newman, Tatapu, Ferreira, Lok