A SECOND-HALF surge has powered the Demons to one of the squad’s best performances of the season defeating the NT Thunder by 57 points in Casey’s final game of the year.
Casey Demons 11.9 (75) defeated the NT Thunder 3.0 (18).
From the opening bounce, the Demons looked in control of the match, with young Casey ruckwoman Bridie Winbanks dominating in the middle giving her midfielder teammates first possession going on to hit leading forwards who converted the opportunities for goals.
But it was a scintillating third quarter which saw the Demons make use of a significant breeze to boot five goals to none, to kick away in the match and end the team’s season on a high.
“The last month and a bit we have really worked to make a statement on the field of what we stand for, and the way in which the playing group has delivered has been exceptional,” Head coach Damien Keeping told Melbourne Media post-game.
“We had a really good result on the scoreboard today, but it was more the way the team went about doing it.
“The professional approach the team has taken to growing and the performance that has resulted in, like today, has been real pleasing.”
While the forwards were having a field day in front of goals, it was Winbanks who was the story of this one.
Winning ruck stoppages around the ground, and becoming an impassable wall for the Thunder defenders taking key contested intercept marks, it was Winbanks best game of her career.
“The last four weeks Bridie has come up exceptional opposition and taken on a huge load, and it shown us [the coaches] her commitment to growing her game and understanding her strengths and where she needs to improve and her application to address that has been super,” Keeping said of his ruckwoman.
Sunday’s game allowed the coach to continue to experiment with the roles of his players.
Amanada McDonough and Breanna Pratt again starred in tagging roles through the middle, Ruby Clayton was superb playing as a defensive half-forward, but the most impressive new role went to Sarah Lampard.
Usually, the Casey quarterback, setting up plays from centre halfback in defence, Sunday saw Keeping push Lampard further into the midfield with positive results.
By taking the AFLW-star further up the field she was able to control the match and hit Casey forwards hit laces out on their leads with her stellar kicking abilities, it was another exciting performance which should delight Melbourne fans for the AFLW season in 2020.
“The way in which we moved the ball from seeing Sarah more of an offensive role today was really good,” Keeping said.
“[The experimentation] has been an area of the program we have been really pleased with, the growth and development we have been able to put into our AFLW players and supported by our VFLW players.”
While Sunday’s game was an outstanding victory, it was also a glimpse of the squad’s exceptional potential and yet another indication this Demons squad should have been playing finals football this year.
When the girls are on, they are one of the best teams in the competition, but too many narrow defeats have proved costly this year.
But the coach is thrilled his team have lived to the team’s agreed-upon values this year.
“We have openly spoken about the team-first mantra the team has wanted to take on,” Keeping said.
“What has been really pleasing is they have lived the actions and the values and the behaviours.
“They have held each other accountable to it and celebrated and improved as a team.”
The improvement across the list has been evident to the Casey Demons fans this season, with tremendous strides in both the VFLW and the AFLW listed players, and with the Club poised for a big off-season including redevelopments at the club grounds, look for 2020 to be an even better season for the Casey Demons.
CASEY DEMONS 4.4 4.5 9.7 11.9 (75)
NT THUNDER 1.0 2.0 2.0 3.0 (18)
Winbanks, Lampard, Hore, Mithen, Scott
Hore 3, Downie, Sherriff, Mithen 2, Hogg, Scott