IN WET and windy conditions at Casey Fields, the Casey Demons won their third VFL practice match in a row, defeating a determined North Melbourne by eight points.
Casey was able to keep its lead at every change, with the Kangaroos closing in each quarter before the Demons were able to break away and give themselves some breathing space to take the win.
“The messaging before the game was around simple brilliance,” senior coach Mark Corrigan told Melbourne Media.
“It was also around our mindset and doing the basics well, and being able to do them for the majority of the game.
“It was nothing too outlandish but making sure that everyone understands that at times players naturally drift in and out from a focus point of view.
“We want to make sure we minimise the times where the opposition has momentum, and we can bring ourselves back to do what is required at any point in time.”
In a tough first half, the Demons were able to control most of the game keeping North Melbourne playing catch up.
“Our strength was when we went inside 50,” Corrigan said.
“Our ability to either mark the ball or be at the drop of the ball showed how we generate scores off the back of deeper inside forward 50 entries.
“It was more minimising those shallow entries or turnovers because when we did, we were really dangerous and more often than not scoring – that was the key element to the game for us.”
The second half saw a more determined North Melbourne outfit, taking it right up to Casey to only trail by five points at three-quarter time. The Demons were able to then regroup in the last quarter and steady the ship, controlling the game to run away with the win.
“It’s just one of those areas when the opposition gets momentum, the boys start trying harder,” Corrigan said.
“And with that, we lost a little bit of method around the contest and started to lose some key contests, which gave North more momentum and we ended up playing the game in their half.
“For us to turn it around, it was just trying to come back and do the basics really well again, to gain some territory back.
“Making sure we were doing the fundamentals and winning our fair share of the contest in order to get the ball back towards our forward 50 [was key].
“We know the opposition is going to have momentum at some stage of the game, but it’s just how can we minimise that period.”
Jake Melksham was impressive for Casey, certainly knocking on the door for selection at Melbourne after imposing himself on the game and kicking two goals.
“Melky was strong in the contest,” Corrigan said.
“His craft around the ball was really good and he was able to hit the scoreboard with a couple of goals - he certainly put his hand up (for selection).”
Up forward, Kade Chandler, Toby Bedford and Majak Daw did no harm in their performances either.
Daw was strong in the air, providing a great target up forward kicking two goals for the game, while both Chandler and Bedford gave great coverage at ground level and were a real presence at the drop of the ball.
Michael Hibberd also provided plenty of drive all day from the defence. Hibberd was really strong in his contests and one-on-ones, which was a positive sign for Demon fans.
From the VFL listed players, Corrigan said there was a pretty even spread of contributors, but a few performances were certainly noted.
“Luca Goonan just continues to get better and better around the footy as a midfielder, and certainly has impressed us as a young mid,” he said.
“It was also good just to get Jack Hutchins back in, and start to get him playing some footy,”
“That was his first practice match, and he was a little bit rusty in some areas but good from a leadership point of view.”
Zac Foot also impressed up forward, along with Lachie Modica on the wing, kicking a couple of goals and playing a solid team role.
The Demons’ next practice match is currently scheduled against Williamstown on Saturday, April 10, before the season opener against the Box Hill Hawks on Saturday, April 17.
Casey Demons 4.4 6.6 9.8 12.9.81
North Melbourne 3.1 5.2 9.3 11.7.73
Goals: 3 Fraser Rosman, 2 Jake Melksham, Majak Daw, Lachie Modica, 1 Austin Bradtke, Kade Chandler, Toby Bedford