The Casey Demons took on Williamstown at home at Casey Fields on Saturday, in what was a hard-fought contest between both sides in wet, windy and slippery conditions.
Ultimately, the Demons got the win at the end of the game, making it four on the trot, with the coaching staff and players feeling well prepared in taking on a robust Seagulls outfit.
“We thought it was going to be a game of who could win more contests around the ground whether it be mid, forward or back,” senior coach Mark Corrigan told Melbourne Media post-game.
“It was having the ability to match Williamstown (in the contest) and hopefully beat them on the outside at times, as they are a strong contested side.”
The Demons got off to a great start, looking to have control of the game, getting first use of the ball and providing multiple forward 50 entries.
Casey’s midfielders had plenty of targets to choose from moving the ball forward, with the likes of Ben Brown, Sam Weideman and Mitch Brown in a forward line that would have rivalled any in AFL.
“I think we were able to get first use of the ball at stoppages and get the ball forward which meant we were able to play the game in our half more,” Corrigan said.
“Our talls were also having a good impact on the game, either marking the ball or bringing it to the ground and we were able to have consistent shots on goal to keep scoreboard pressure on the opposition.”
The second and third quarters, however, saw a rejuvenated opposition, with the Seagulls taking it right up to Casey to be only trailing by one point at half time and two points at three-quarter time.
“We drifted away from what was working for us in the first quarter,” Corrigan said.
“Williamstown started to get on top and win more contests. They had plus 15 inside 50s in the second quarter, and that was just off the back of being able to win the ball in their half.
“In part, a little bit of our ball use and execution wasn’t great and we turned the ball over too many times. Williamstown were also able to set up really well and get the ball back into their forward 50. It is definitely an area for us to work on moving forward.”
Casey coaches advised the boys at three-quarter time that they needed to take the game on in order to win. In the last quarter, the Demons stepped it up a notch and found some more avenues to goal, resulting in a hard ‘tough it out’ style 12.9 (79) to 10.9 (69) win over Williamstown.
“At three-quarter time, we wanted to make sure the boys understood that we still wanted to win the game (even though it was a practice match) and that the directive was we wanted to be brave with our ball movement,” Corrigan said.
“The other directive given to the players was to be strong and aggressive in the contest and be able to generate insides forward 50 entries.
“This tactic was either going to win or lose us the game and we generated a lot (of inside 50s) earlier on. We probably still turned the ball over a bit too much but we finally found a way to score which was really pleasing, and obviously the response to get the results was gratifying in itself.”
Melbourne forwards Brown and Weideman played reduced game time as they were both returning from long-term injuries. The duo provided great targets up forward and contested well in the air and on the ground.
Brown looked dangerous early with a few shots on goal, ending up with one to his name for the game.
“He took a few nice marks and presented really well, so from that end we’re really happy to see his re-integration into football.
“Sam Weideman probably didn’t have the impact he would have liked on the game - he competed really well for us though and it was just pleasing to see those guys out there.”
Other notable mentions were Majak Daw in the ruck, providing first use to the Casey midfielders, while Aaron vandenBerg and Oskar Baker were both consistent in and around the ball and played their roles.
Defensively Michael Hibberd was solid again with great support from Joel Smith, who also contested well in his one on ones.
There was also plenty to like from some of the VFL listed players. Captain Mitch White chimed in with two goals for the game, while Aidan Quigley and Jimmy Munro were consistent around the ball. A few young guns also impressed the coach with their influence on the game.
“I thought there was some real impact from our younger players that came on after half time, like Sparks and Grey,” Corrigan said.
“It was great those boys were able to find a way to affect the game. Even though they sat off for a half of footy, their ability to come in and play their role and know it really well was the difference in the end.”
It was only a month ago that Casey faced a young brigade of Hawks for their second practice match, which the Dees easily accounted for.
However, Corrigan and the Demons are under no illusions that the round one match will be the same.
“Box Hill will be a very different outfit this time, with a lot more experience and AFL listed players in their side. Albeit a good result last time, it will certainly be a very different game for round one,” he said.
“And we also need to continue to enhance our fundamentals in using the ball and how we execute them, which was something that let us down today.”
The last time these sides met for four points was in round 13 of the 2019 season, where Casey claimed victory by 34 points.
After a year off, both sides will be keen to get their 2021 season underway with a win, but with the good form that Casey has been showing of late, taking home the four points will be expected and nothing less.
Casey Demons 3.4 4.4 8.4 12.7.79
Williamstown 1.1 4.3 7.8 10.9.69
Goals: 3 M.Brown, 2 Mitch White, 1 Bedford, Laurie, B.Brown, Daw, Munro, Foot, Quigley
Next Game: Round 1 v Box Hill Hawks @ Box Hill City Oval, Sunday 18th April - 12:05 pm