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Casey goes down in season opener

Ben Gibson  April 17, 2017 7:56 PM

It gives our players confidence that we were within four goals … and we can be stronger than what we were

CASEY has suffered a 23-point loss in the opening round of the VFL season, falling to Williamstown at Burbank Oval on Easter Monday afternoon.

Following a strong start to the clash, the Demons were out run by Williamstown after quarter-time.

The Seagulls kicked away to a convincing victory: 12.11 (83) to 8.12 (60).

A tight opening term saw the re-named Casey Demons seven points clear of Williamstown at the first break.

But an early dominance in the second quarter had the Seagulls on top, with three goals in 12 minutes to hand them a two-goal buffer.

The Seagulls moved the ball quickly through the centre of the ground with a lack of pressure being applied, but a third first half goal to vice-captain Angus Scott got the Demons back on track.

Jack Trengove linked up by hand with Cameron Pedersen to add a late goal, with the deficit standing at a manageable eight points at the main change.

But Williamstown asserted their dominance and came out with intent after half-time. They added the first two goals in quick succession and extended their lead to 21-points after just 10 minutes of play.

The Demons over use of the ball by hand proved costly, as the Seagulls rebounded well from repeated forced turnovers.

Consistent forward entries were too much for the Demon backline to resist, as Williamstown blew the lead out to 31 points at the final change.

The Demons were in desperate need of early goals in the fourth quarter, but it took Williamstown big-man Ayce Cordy just two minutes to take a contested mark and put the game beyond doubt.

Casey contested strongly throughout the last term, but the damage had been done as Williamstown held on to take home the four points.

After suffering an Achilles injury setback during the JLT Community Series, Michael Hibberd returned to the field. Hibberd was fantastic in his comeback match, compiling 25 disposals and providing class off half-back. His long-kicking left boot, quick thinking and run helped the Demons rebound well out of defence.

Coach Justin Plapp was impressed with Hibberd’s performance and said he was a chance to make his debut for Melbourne next Monday night, when it plays Richmond on ANZAC Eve at the MCG.

“He looked good out there. He got through the game well and was up around full game time,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

Hibberd’s composure with ball in hand, and ability to read the ball in the air will be an asset for Melbourne when the opportunity arises.

Angus Brayshaw was dealt plenty of attention from opposition midfielders. But he worked hard for his 17 disposals in the second half. He finished a solid performance with 24 touches. A strong mark late saw Brayshaw add one of just two Demon goals in the second half.

With the Seagulls midfield focused firmly on Brayshaw, Trengove enjoyed plenty of space through the centre of the ground. The former Melbourne co-captain racked up 33 disposals and kicked a goal in a best-on-ground performance for the Demons.

Trengove won the ball on the inside and used it neatly in space.

“He has certainly put a pretty good case forward,” Plapp said in regards to Trengove’s prospects of gaining selection for Melbourne.

“He was pretty solid across four quarters, used the ball pretty well and pressured the opposition.”

There was plenty of interest around the performance of the versatile Pedersen. He did his chance of senior selection no harm, as the 193cm utility gathered 29 disposals and booted one goal.

Pedersen’s work rate allowed him to find space around ground and collect an impressive amount of the ball.

Following his AFL debut last week, Tim Smith worked tirelessly for his 20 possessions.

At the other end of the ground, Oscar McDonald played a good game in defence. He read the ball well, timing his spoils and mopping up with 17 touches at ground level.

Ex-Townsville basketballer Corey Maynard looked comfortable with 25 disposals. His strength around the contest and ability to win the ball was valuable.

The Demons were unable to start the year with a win, but Plapp believes his side has improved from last year and still found several positives from the loss.

“It gives our players confidence that we were within four goals … and we can be stronger than what we were,” he said.

Casey will be looking to bounce back in round two, as they take on North Ballarat at Casey Fields on Saturday night.

The Roosters are coming off a 188-point loss to Richmond, where they managed just four goals.

Williamstown Seagulls  3.3    7.8   11.11   12.11 (83)

Casey Demons               4.4    6.6    6.10     8.12  (60)