ROOKIES Tim Smith and Corey Maynard have earned strong praise from Casey Demons coach Justin Plapp for their performances on the weekend.

Smith (21 disposals and two goals) and Maynard (28 touches) were among Casey’s best in its three-point win over Box Hill Hawks at Casey Fields on Saturday.

“I thought Tim Smith was a very good player. He really competed at an exceptional level,” Plapp told

“He played some different roles on the weekend, but he did some really strong competitive work, in and around the contest, which was a real highlight. His ability to be able to mark the ball when forward was also really strong.

“Corey showed some real signs of improvement and continual development. I know he’s an older body, but he just impressed with his attack on the ball and his ability to have an impact around the contest as well.”

Plapp said there were “four outstanding players” in the win, with utility Tom Bugg (32 dispoals and a goal) and the powerful Dean Kent (25 touches) also earning plaudits.

“I thought that the way Tomas Bugg came back [to Casey after being an emergency in round one] was very good – his attitude and mindset showed strong leadership, but he really drove high standards around the way we wanted to play,” he said.

“I thought Tomas had a really strong performance on the weekend – he played through the middle and up forward. He was certainly someone who played like an AFL player at VFL level.

“We felt that Dean Kent really worked into the game and seemed to run out the game well. He was able to use his speed and power in different situations of the game.”

Plapp said Sam Frost (toe) and Josh Wagner (fibula), who missed six and five weeks respectively, returned from injury to play solid games.

“They were two who came back from long layoffs and both of those boys performed really well. They got the amount of work they needed to and their return was also a positive on the weekend,” he said.

Plapp said his side was building strongly in the lead-up to the start of the VFL season, which opens in the round four equivalent.

“We started really poorly and didn’t play to the level we know we’re capable of in the first half, and at half-time, we were able to take a bit of a deep breath and get some things sorted,” he said.

“The second half was probably some of the better football I’ve seen at VFL level.

“It was an impressive performance for half of the game.”