IN WHAT was a hard game of footy to start with, the Demons finally broke through the Falcons in the second half of the game to run out winners 9.6 (60) to 1.1 (7).
After a long break from play due to COVID-19, the Casey Demons were ready to face the Darebin Falcons. While ladder positions would have the Demons as firm favourites to win the game, the Falcons would have seen this as an opportunity to take a big scalp and alter the final six configurations.
Early in the first quarter, you could see both sides were a little rusty after a few weeks off, and the Falcons capitalised on that, pushing forward for the first score. After that, the Demons clicked into gear keeping the ball in their forward 50, not giving Darebin any opportunities. Shree Fairchild was in everything, applying some fantastic pressure. Jacqueline Parry had two goals for the quarter and Eliza McNamara chimed in for one.
The second quarter saw Darebin step up its attack on the ball and again produce the quarters first score. It was just a slog out game of footy in the second quarter with neither side wanting to give any ground. Imogen Milford hit the scoreboard late in the quarter to extend the Demons' lead to 20 points going into the main break.
The third quarter started similarly to the second, with both sides not giving each other any easy opportunities. It wasn't until halfway through the third that Casey seemed to find its mojo and got things going. Goals to Eliza West, Meg Fitzsimon and recruit Kate Gillespie-Jones extended the Demons' lead to 39-points.
In the last quarter, it was all Casey. The midfield brigade of Hogg, McDonald and West, continued to drive the ball forward, creating opportunities for the Demons' forwards. Tahlia Fellows kicked her first of the afternoon in her comeback game after 12 weeks out with injury, while Milford added a second to her name - and it could have been more with a few shots going the wrong side of the goals.
In the end, a great 53-point win to secure the Casey Demons' first finals appearance in the VFLW.
“After half-time we showed if we’re composed around the ball and use some nice shape around the contest, we can allow our forwards an opportunity to have some one-on-one looks,” Casey VFLW coach Peter Mercoulia said post-match when speaking with Melbourne Media.
“Credit to Darebin though on their ability to impact the contest early in the game, I felt from our group we started a little inconsistent due to their pressure.”
After the main break, it was a different story for the Demons as they piled on five goals while keeping the Falcons scoreless.
“We showed the girls some clips around our method of the contest,” Mercoulia said.
“We were trying to rush the ball forward which suited Darebin with their numbers both behind the ball and at the contest.
“The focus shifted to utilise the open side of the ground, using some nice shape around the contest and giving our forwards one-on-one opportunities.
“We were able to achieve that by being more composed and executing our fundamentals better.”
Saturday’s win has consolidated Casey’s position in the top six of the rebel VFLW. In what will be the club's maiden finals appearance, the Demons are looking to make an impact.
“They are not easy to come by, finals, you need to earn your way there at any level,” Mercoulia said.
“It’s a proud moment for everyone involved, not only just the players and coaches but all staff - both support and administration as well. They allow us to do what we do each week in playing/coaching football, and without their help, we would not have the outcomes we have had.
“Being a very fantastic moment for the club, we don’t want to rest on our laurels. Rather, we plan to go deep into this year’s finals and continue to give opportunities to our girls, both AFLW and VFLW players, to play in a finals environment.
“It doesn’t matter what competition you are playing in, finals are finals, I think it’s great they can be exposed to that.”
Next week Casey takes on the Western Bulldogs in the final game of the home and away fixture. The Bulldogs are still in the hunt for a finals spot and will need to defeat the Demons by a large margin and then have North Melbourne defeat the Southern Saints.
It will be a big game for the Demons as they will want to keep their winning form heading into the finals series.
Casey Demons 3.3 4.3 7.4 9.6 (60)
Darebin 0.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 (7)
Goals: 2 Jacqueline Parry, Imogen Milford, 1 Tahlia Fellows, Megan Fitzsimon, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Eliza McNamara, Eliza West
Best: Meg Macdonald, Eliza McNamara, Mel Hogg, Gabbie Colvin, Alison Brown, Kate Gillespie-Jones
Next Game: Round 14 v Western Bulldogs @ VU Whitten Oval Saturday 1pm