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Melbourne Football Club

VFL: Casey outlast Collingwood

CASEY has grinded out a scrappy 23-point victory over Collingwood at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon to extend its winning streak.

The Demons were the tougher side in a messy game, making it five consecutive victories.

With a 15-point lead at three quarter-time and two quick goals to start the final term, Casey looked to have the low-scoring game under control.

But as the match opened up, Collingwood responded with four of the next five majors, drawing within 11 points in the final six minutes.

The Demons were challenged, but they found a way to hit the scoreboard with Harley Balic bobbing up to kick two crucial goals in the late stages.

Albeit not the cleanest display of football, Casey senior coach Jade Rawlings was happy to bank the four points.

“It was a real grind,” Rawlings told Melbourne Media.

“Sometimes in your season you have to find a way to get through that and get over the top and we were able to do that.”

After jumping out of the blocks well with a three-goal to none first term, Casey looked ready to run away with a big win, but its work rate quickly fell away.

Dangerous Magpie forward Ben Crocker kicked an early goal in the second quarter getting his side on the board as the momentum shifted significantly.

Collingwood brought a superior intensity in the period, working harder around the contest and ultimately putting the Demons on the back foot.

“The second quarter was unacceptable,” Rawlings said.

“Collingwood definitely lifted and we didn’t meet the challenge.

“We addressed a couple of things at half-time which the players took on board and went and applied which made a big difference.”

In the absence of Cam Pedersen, Joel Smith, Billy Stretch and Jeff Garlett, the Demons depth was challenged, but the Casey-listed players contributed well.

Angus Scott, Goy Lok and Mitch Lewis hit the scoreboard early, before the more experienced Demon players began to stand up.

“I thought (Jayden) Hunt, (Tom) Bugg and (Dom) Tyson at various times were able to assert leadership around the ball,” Rawlings said.

“We can’t just rely on Pedersen every week.

“We need to keep spreading the load and not rely on one player.

“After half-time I saw a lot of leadership actions from our senior players.”

With the game on the line, Rawlings made some structural moves to get his side back on track, with Sam Frost going forward and Hunt spending time on-ball.

Frost gave Sam Weideman a chop-out as the pair competed well in the air, consistently bringing the ball to ground to help their teammates get involved.

The stats weren’t rewarding for the big men in a congested affair, but their hard work was valuable nonetheless.

Jay Kennedy-Harris was the best four-quarter performer on the field, demonstrating a will to work hard for the entire game. He pushed through the midfield on occasion and looked lively inside 50, contributing an important goal in the final term.

Unfortunately, Lewis left the field just before half-time with an ankle injury and is expected to spend another stint on the sidelines. The luckless 19-year-old started the game well, but may have to go through another rehabilitation process following knee trouble last season.

After a fifth win on the trot, Casey will enjoy the bye next week before looking to continue its strong form against Coburg in round 12.

“It’s been a tough five-week block,” Rawlings said.

“I think our players are ready for a spell.

“We’ve faced some challenges … but it’s more how we’re going about it that I’m constantly trying to monitor.”

The Demons pulled on Springvale’s guernsey on Saturday to commemorate the Scorpions 1998 premiership on what was a great occasion for the club.

CASEY DEMONS     3.2   4.6   6.7  11.10 (76)
COLLINGWOOD      0.2   4.2    4.4    8.5  (53)

Balic, Bugg 2, Baker, Frost, Kennedy-Harris, Lewis, Lok, Scott, J. Wagner

Kennedy-Harris, Baker, C. Wagner, Tyson, Weideman, Bugg