A four goal to zero third quarter set the tone for the Demons, who emerged 39-point winners in a tight contest with Sydney at the MCG.
Slippery conditions meant neither side ever looked completely dominant on Saturday evening, as it took for a burst of Casey class to separate the ladder leading Demons in the 12.11 (83) to 6.8 (44) result.
Only 10 minutes of madness to start the third term, where Casey booted four goals in quick time to skip away, proved the difference in a tight tussle impacted by the dewy conditions.
Casey coach Mark Corrigan said the Demons didn’t have it all their own way but remained composed when it mattered to confirm its tenth consecutive win of the VFL season.
“In the second quarter the game was on Sydney’s terms off the back of our predictability in how we moved the ball,” Corrigan told Casey Media.
“The response after half time was fantastic and it was much more like the way we want to play and move the ball.
“Full credit to the playing group for listening to the feedback and responding.”
Two first quarter goals to forward Sam Weideman kept the Dees ahead by two goals at quarter time, as a ripper George Grey one-handed mark and running goal ensured Casey stayed on top.
With Trent Rivers (25 touches) and Oskar Baker (24) controlling the defence, Casey dominated general play for most of the first half.
But inaccuracy and a late flurry of two Sydney goals meant Casey only took a three-point lead into half time.
Weideman carried the Demons’ forward line in the first half, kicking three goals and looking classy in tough conditions for tall players.
With the engine room of Luke Dunstan (24 touches, nine clearances), Jimmy Munro (23 disposals, 10 clearances) and Jake Melksham adding a touch of class to the centre clearances, a bunch of unheralded defenders controlled the second half.
Corrigan said the wealth of experienced players he had at his disposal ensured the Demons enjoyed fleeting moments of breaking lines and attacking hard.
“It’s the maturity of those players and how they recognise what the game is giving them,” Corrigan said. “Their maturity to know they can get the ascendancy back our way is what we’re seeing right now.
Andy Moniz-Wakefield provided the spark in the third term, laying a superb tackle and accepting the rewarding free kick by converting a tough set shot.
Jacob van Rooyen may not have hit the scoreboard heavily, but his effort couldn’t be questioned as he barrelled into a pack of three Sydney defenders.
The spilled ball fell to Grey, who calmly snapped through his second goal of the contest and kept Casey’s momentum going.
When Melksham’s touch kick found White for a third goal in quick time, Casey had opened a three-goal lead.
A Chandler right foot finish following a superb change of handballs extended the lead to just under 30 points, and the Demons ensured this break wouldn’t be threatened.
The game then fell into its low-scoring rhythm, with Casey taking a 25-point lead into the final break.
In the end an even defensive effort helped grind out the result for a second straight week, as the experienced Michael Hibberd and Trent Rivers shone in marshalling the back line.
Talls Corey Ellison and Daniel Turner once again controlled the airways, while Deakyn Smith and Judd McVee continued their great form at ground level.
Corrigan said his defence continues to improve each week.
“They were superb last week and they did it again today,” Corrigan said. “They were strong in their one-on-one contests and in their ability to win the ball back.
“Corey Ellison stood tall today and when we have Rivers and Hibberd playing it gives you confidence when their games are based around winning the ball at the contest.”
It wasn’t Casey’s most dominant performance, but the resulting 39-point result confirmed the Demons can grind out results against the VFL’s best sides.
Despite Sydney booting the opening goal of the final term, the class of Dunstan, Grey and Baker meant the Demons locked the game down in a tiring contest.
The effort of Munro kept producing chances, as Laurie converted a tough set shot to keep the Swans at bay.
Corrigan praised the work of his tall forward pairing Weideman and Jacob van Rooyen for consistently bringing the ball to ground and creating chances in adverse conditions.
“Weideman and van Rooyen up forward provided outstanding aerial work,” Corrigan said. “They just kept competing and bringing the ball to ground – it brought our smalls into the play.
“Today wasn’t one of those games where you could pick out five good players – we had a really even spread of contributors.”
When Grey popped up to take a clever mark and kick his third, the Demons held a 33-point lead, as it worked hard to open the game up in the final period of play.
Matt Buntine capped off another great game leading down back with an intercept mark and long-range set shot goal, before Roan Steele’s hard work paid off when he got on the end of a pass out the back and converted.
CASEY 3.4 4.8 8.10 12.11 (83)
SYDNEY 1.0 4.5 4.8 6.8 (44)
GOALS: Weideman, Grey 3, Chandler, Laurie, Moniz-Wakefield, White, Buntine, Steele
DISPOSALS: Rivers 25, Baker, Dunstan 24, Munro 23, White 19, Chandler 18, Hibberd 17
BEST: Rivers, Weideman, Dunstan, Ellison, Grey, Hibberd, Turner, Smith, Munro