GEELONG has come home with a wet sail benefitting from a significant breeze to punish a wasteful Casey Demons side on Saturday afternoon running out as 9-point winners at Casey Fields, leaving the Demons finals hopes in doubt.
Casey Demons 5.9 (39) defeated by Geelong Cats 5.18 (48).
Despite glorious Winter sunshine above, it was tough going underfoot for both sides as an overnight downpour resulted in difficult surface conditions, resulting in both sides struggling to build any running or link-up play on the outside.
After the Demons used the breeze in the opening term to jump out to a 22-point lead, the match quickly deteriorated into a slog fight and a contested ball battle which the visitors won out leaving the Demons coach lamenting a win which got away.
“It was a real slog today,” Head coach Sam Radford told Melbourne Media.
“It was probably just the third quarter where we didn’t capitalise when we had the wind.
“But to Geelong’s credit, they were super around the ball… Just smashed us in contested possessions, clearances, stuff that we pride ourselves on… They were really good in that part of the game and deserved the win.”
Casey headed into the half-time break leading by 10 points on the back of outstanding first halves from Jay Kennedy Harris, James Munro and the returning Mitch Hannan.
After being squeezed out of the Melbourne side, Hannan responded out of the blocks recording six disposals in the opening term and making an impact but struggled to sustain the effort over the four quarters finishing with 12 touches.
While Kennedy Harris was solid again, with the smooth-running winger finishing with 20 disposals, 11 tackles and booting a goal in another performance which should draw the eye of Melbourne head coach Simon Goodwin.
Despite the scoreboard lead, the Demons struggled to contain returning Cats star Sam Menegola, as the 60-game AFL veteran began showcasing his talents winning clearances and influencing the match.
It wasn’t until Radford shifted Munro on to the star Cat in the second quarter which curtailed his impact and forced Menegola into earning every one of his possessions, Munro finished with 20 disposals and an absurd 16 tackles in the contest.
But it was a wasteful third quarter which resulted in the Demons falling to their second straight defeat of under 10-points in as many weeks, as Casey could only manage to add one goal with the breeze, while the Cats counted with two majors and put themselves in the driver’s seat for the final quarter.
If it wasn’t for the outstanding play of defensive duo Tom Freeman and Jack Hutchins, the deficit could have been much worse for the Demons.
“Tommy and Jack really kept us in it,” Radford said.
“In the first half all the backs were super, but Tommy and Jack had really solid four-quarter games.”
Freeman finished with an equal game-high 30 disposals and took a number of key intercept marks to stifle Geelong attacks, while Hutchins was superb in shutting down Geelong’s leading goal-kicker Wylie Buzza holding the AFL-listed forward goalless.
It was a game made for the contested ball loving Demons who lead the VFL in tackles but despite recording an astonishing 115 tackles, Casey could not emerge victorious as Geelong were the better side on the day.
“The boys are playing the right way and having a crack,” Radford said.
“Geelong were just a really good side and too slick… They were just too good today.”
Next week Casey continues its string of must-win games to make finals, as the Demons head to Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval to face the pesky Sandringham Zebras.
A side battling their own inconsistency this season and in the midst of a devastating losing streak, the Zebras will not be an easy match-up for the Demons, so the boys will need their best to secure the victory.
CASEY DEMONS 3.4 3.5 4.7 5.9 (39)
GEELONG CATS 0.0 1.7 3.10 5.18 (48)
Freeman, Hutchins, Munro, Kennedy Harris, Baker
Kennedy Harris, Lefau, Keilty, Smith, Briggs