Stingrays sweat on Manly win

Michelle Carney

Michelle Carney

FOOTBALL

They keep fulfilling their side of the bargain, but the Illawarra Stingrays are still sweating on results elsewhere in their quest to play finals football this season.

In a remarkable turnaround from earlier this campaign, Graham Shaw's side handed minor premiership winners Macarthur Rams an 8-2 thrashing on Sunday to keep their finals dream on track.

But with top-four rivals Manly United and Football NSW Institute still to meet and goal difference set to play a pivotal role in the race for a finals spot, the Rays position is still far from secure.

They sit fourth on the ladder, equal on 37 points with Sydney University, with the Institute (fifth, 35 points) and Manly (sixth, 33 points) slated to play on Thursday.

Ideally, the Rays need Manly to win so they require just a win of their own against Blacktown Spartans next weekend to play finals football.

But if the Institute secure the points, it could see the Stingrays fighting with the Students for the final top-four spot.

At the moment, University lead Illawarra by three on goal difference after Illawarra sharply closed the gap last weekend in a devastating display against the Rams.

"They were six ahead before the weekend, so it was definitely good that the girls were so clinical in front of goals and that we took our chances," coach Graham Shaw said.

"There weren't many opportunities that didn't end up being a goal. It was a strong second half."

Three goals in seven minutes after half-time proved the catalyst for a memorable Stingrays result.

Michelle Carney got the second of her eventual hat-trick with a 40-yard wonder strike while Jess Cooper and Erica Halloway both got on the scoresheet.

It quickly took the score out to 5-2 after scores were locked at the interval, which did make Rams drop their heads, Shaw said.

"The girls, right through to the final whistle, put their foot on the pedal and got another three."

The Stingrays had been behind in the match midway through the first half after Jordan Baker's strike on 30 minutes was cancelled out by two quick goals from the Rams.

But Carney pulled the Rays level before the break and rounded out her hat-trick from the penalty spot in the second half.

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