A STIRRING second-half comeback has powered the Casey Demons to a 13-point win over the Northern Blues at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon.
Casey Demons 11.19 (85) defeated the Northern Blues 11.6 (72).
In a high-paced opening half, both sides had their share of scoring shots, with the visitors making the most of their efforts in front of goal.
The Demons booted only five majors from their 13 opportunities, while the Blues kicked eight goals to take a 13-point lead into the main break.
A tremendous third quarter saw Casey surge back into the contest, setting up the victory on its home deck. With impressive efforts from James Jordon and Corey Maynard, the Demons were able to hold on in the last quarter to record their fourth-straight win.
“I’m really proud of the boys, as we played the right way,” senior coach Sam Radford told Melbourne Media.
“We didn’t quite take our chances, but for three and a half quarters I think we were the dominant side.”
With Braydon Preuss a late withdrawal from the match, Liam Buxton battled in the ruck, going up against the Blues’ duo of Matthew Lobbe and Aaron Phillips.
His efforts, combined with that of the Casey midfield, stood out to Radford.
“Our midfield was fantastic, Liam competed well and having Declan Keilty go into the ruck was outstanding as well,” he said.
“The Blues have quality rucks who were giving them first use of the ball, but our ability to make it a contest and to keep competing over four quarters was excellent.”
Saturday’s game welcomed back several familiar faces, with Jake Lever and Neville Jetta both playing for the red and blue.
Jetta, who returned for his first game since knee surgery in April, played limited minutes, but provided a big boost for the young Casey defence.
“We had a very experienced backline today, and it is great for our VFL-listed boys to be playing alongside the names of Neville Jetta, Josh Wagner, Jake Lever and Oscar McDonald,” Radford said.
“That is a quality backline that hopefully our VFL boys learned plenty from.”
But perhaps the best on ground performance went to stand-in skipper James Munro.
With captain Mitch White out, the Casey veteran stood up for his side, finishing with 25 disposals and two key goals.
“Jimmy stood up in Whitey’s absence and was outstanding,” Radford said.
“The way he competes and his effort is inspirational. I love coaching him and I love watching him play.”
With six games left in the season, the Casey side is enjoying a renewed confidence, with the continued improvement the most exciting aspect for the coach.
“I am really happy with the improvement of the young guys,” Radford said.
“We know what we get from the older guys, but some of the first-year AFL guys are really developing and some of our Casey boys are improving as well.
“I thought Jimmy (James) Jordon was fantastic today, Toby Bedford is playing really good footy, Tom Freeman had a really good second half and Anthony Vella was going really well, before he got injured.”
Vella sustained a shoulder injury in the final term, involved in a heavy collision with Blues ruckman Lobbe.
The key defender has been in a purple patch of form, with the extent of the damage a possible concern for the Demons.
Sitting in ninth place on the VFL ladder, Casey will now look ahead to next weekend when it takes on third-placed Footscray at Marvel Stadium.
The match will be a curtain raiser to the Round 17 AFL game against Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.
With Footscray defeating Casey by 17 points last time they met in Round 5, the Demons will be eager to get one back next Sunday.
CASEY DEMONS 3.6 5.8 7.13 11.19 (85)
NORTHERN BLUES 5.1 8.3 9.4 11.6 (72)
Munro, Jordon, Maynard, Bedford, Freeman, Baker
Lefau, Kennedy Harris, Bedford 2, Hutchins, Baker, Buxton, Munro