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Melbourne Football Club

VFLW: Casey fall to Saints in heartbreaker

It shouldn’t come down to the last quarter and the last 10 minutes for us to win. We had our opportunities in the first and second quarters but couldn’t get the job done.
Co-captain Nicole Garner

IT WAS the one that got away for the Casey Demons falling to the Southern Saints by 11 points at Casey Fields on Sunday afternoon.

Casey Demons 1.6 (12) defeated by Southern Saints 3.5 (23).

After battling back into the contest in the third quarter, the Demons took the ascendency through outstanding forward pressure in the final term.

But couldn’t turn the pressure into scoring a major, rather five behinds, leaving the door open for the visitors.

A slight lapse in defensive structures in the final minutes allowed the Saints to relieve the pressure, move down the field and kick the eventual sealer, breaking the heart of the big Casey home crowd watching on.

For head coach Damien Keeping, the loss stings but he is confident his team can learn from the experience.

“It's important we have a real levelled approached of how we come out of whether we are winning or losing on the scoreboard,” Keeping told Melbourne Media.

“We spoke about that post-game, we have had some good wins... But today we came up against an opposition which challenged us.

"While I think we had the momentum of the game for big parts of it we weren't able to execute the way in which we wanted to.

"There are learnings from every experience we have, I was really pleased at how the group came out of the game and how they have responded post-game."

After an overnight delude, the Casey Fields surface resulted in a tough going underfoot for the girls, so the game was expected to be a battle of contested ball, and a day for experienced players to stand up.

For the Demons, the team enjoyed welcoming back three AFLW-listed stars, Harriett Cornder, Ainslie Kemp and Shelley Heath, into mix who all had significant impacts on the contest.

Co-captain Cordner was influential in her first game of the season, rotating in the ruck and moving down forward to provide a target.

Kemp was returning from an ACL knee injury suffered during the 2018 AFLW season and looked to be quickly on the road back to her best.

The 22-year-old hard running winger showed her class forcing her Saints opponents into errors which led to intercept marks by the Demons defenders.

But the standout of the trio was Heath.

After sustaining what looked to be a corky in the second term, Heath was stellar in the final term hassling the Saints defenders and throwing around her slight frame hitting them with bumps.

The constant pressure brought about the final set-shot by Maddie Guerin for what could have been her second match-winner for the season, but the shot sailed to the far side for a behind.

It epitomised the Demons day of being agonizingly close to the victory.

“It shouldn’t come down to the last quarter and the last 10 minutes for us to win,” Co-captain Nicole Garner said.

“We had our opportunities in the first and second quarters but couldn’t get the job done.”

It was a shift in the third quarter towards moving the ball by hand and keeping possession the Demons fought their way back into the contest.

The movement resulted in the ball quickly transitioning along the wing and towards the Casey forward 50, where the Casey forwards were challenged in the air and brought the ball to ground.

Once on the ground, the Casey small forwards of Kiana Oates, Heath and Lisa Davies were stellar in trapping the ball in the forward lines.

The constant pressure resulted in frustrated Saints defenders giving away a free kick to Birch who found Chantel Emonson for our lone goal of the match.

The shift in game style shows the maturity and adaptability of the squad, but the Demons couldn’t complete the shift to the Casey way of football.

“The team adapting to how the Saints were playing,” Garner said.

“So we saw how they were playing and adapted and wanted to play our style of quick hands.

“Get on the boot and we are out… We tried to transition to our game style but it just didn’t come off today.”

While the first loss of the season for Casey, it will be a result the team will stew on for letting one get away, as the Demons focus shifts to Collingwood next Sunday.

With a star-studded AFLW-listed line-up of their own, the Magpies will pose a significant challenge for Casey, but the team will be ready for the challenge.


CASEY DEMONS            0.1       0.1       1.1       1.6       (12)

SOUTHERN SAINTS       1.0       1.4       1.4       3.5       (23)



Birch, Jakobsson, Heath, Emonson, McLean