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Melbourne Football Club

Casey overcome Werribee in tough battle

CASEY overran Werribee in a highly contested affair, pinching a gutsy 16-point victory at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday night.

Casey Demons 10.11 (71) defeated Werribee 8.7 (55).

Despite heavy rain and strong winds throughout the afternoon, the conditions under lights were perfect for football.

But an almighty scrap took place, with the Demons failing to score consecutive goals in a grinding first-half.

The Tigers opened up a three-goal lead late in the third-term and the Demons were staring down the barrel of defeat, but Jayden Hunt weaved some magic from the boundary to spark a spirited comeback with a stunning goal.

Sam Weideman capped off Casey’s blitzing finish to the third-term to hand the Demons an unlikely two-point lead at the final change.

Casey were able to control possession late in the game, peppering the goals and clinging onto a narrow victory.

Despite the ugly contest, with repeated stoppages becoming a theme of the night, senior coach Jade Rawlings was pleased with his sides performance.

“I thought the whole four quarters were a highlight,” Rawlings told Melbourne Media.

“I loved what Werribee brought to the game, they were absolutely brilliant and really challenged our guys.

“We had our backs against the wall but I thought we were still competing really hard … and we just hung in with how we play and things started to turn for us.

“It was a great game of footy.”

Cameron Pedersen kicked his second goal in the dying stages of the last-quarter, standing up to seal the win.

“I thought our senior players were able to be really strong late in the game when we needed them,” Rawlings said.

The Tigers were fierce early in the match, impressing the hostile crowd which flooded the brand new grand stand on a significant occasion for the club. Werribee’s hunger for the ball was on display with a weight of numbers around the contest, but the Demons didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“I was really happy with that, that’s our style,” Rawlings said.

“We like the contest and we knew Werribee would bring that … so there was nothing they produced that we weren’t ready for, but I just thought they were doing it a little bit better up to half-time.”

Joel Smith provided a rare first-half highlight for Casey with a trademark specky on the wing, as he produced a strong defensive performance, but it was the Tigers who took an 11-point lead into the main break.

Werribee’s key-forward Josh Corbett had the cleanest hands on the ground, as the imposing figure clunked numerous contested marks and converted three early goals.

With the need to swing momentum, Rawlings threw the big-bodied Tim Smith into the centre in the third-term and it paid dividends.

“It wasn’t an ideal night for tall forwards and we really like what Tim brings around the ball and we thought he had a real impact,” he said.

Casey’s kicking inside 50 was poor at times, with Werribee pushing numbers back to intercept, but the Demons fought hard to remain within reach, and eventually found a way to hit the scoreboard.

Hunt had a significant impact at half-back, trying to get his run going and drive the Demons forward.

“He was probably our most consistent four-quarter competitor,” Rawlings said.

“He almost broke through a few times with his runs, but it was more how he was looking to engage in contests and win the ball that we’re really happy with.”

Casey benefited from a spread of role players throughout the match, with Mitch King working tirelessly in the ruck and Jay Lockhart showing his class in defence.

Ex-Melbourne player and stand-in captain Mitch White led by example down back, withstanding an early onslaught from the Tigers and rebounding well for the Demons.

Mitch Hannan was carried over as an emergency for Melbourne’s round four clash with Hawthorn and didn’t take the field on Saturday night.

Casey will play a third consecutive away game next Sunday, taking on Richmond at the Swinburne Centre.

CASEY DEMONS      2.1  3.5   7.8   10.11  (71)
WERRIBEE                3.1  5.4   7.6     8.7    (55)

Pedersen, Scott 2, Balic, Hunt, King, Maynard, T. Smith, Weideman

White, Hunt, T. Smith, King, Lockhart, J. Smith