Casey suffered its second loss for the 2021 VFL season thanks to a red-hot Footscray side on Saturday, going down 10.9 (69) to 16.10 (106).
After a few weeks off due to COVID, the Demons were eager to continue their strong season, while the Bulldogs were out to maintain their undefeated streak.
With an extended squad travelling with the Melbourne side, Casey went into the game with seven changes from the group that lined up back in round 13.
In windy conditions at Casey Fields, the Bulldogs got the opening score of the game. However, Casey was able to quickly take control, adding four unanswered goals in the space of 10 minutes.
The Demons took advantage of the breeze and Footscray just didn't have a response. George Grey had a nice snap from a forward stoppage to give the Demons a 29-point lead halfway through the first before Corey Ellison added their sixth goal of the quarter.
Casey had a few more shots on goal but only managed minor scores. It was a healthy 39-point lead at the first break.
The Demons continued their control of the game early in the second and pushed the margin out to 46 points, thanks to Mitch White kicking his second from a free kick.
The Bulldogs then kicked the next six goals using the strong wind to their advantage, as the Demons did in the first. It was a complete reversal of the first quarter, with Casey needing to work overtime.
Zac Foot had an opportunity to kick the Demons’ second for the quarter only to miss the lot kicking into the wind. At half time, the Demons held onto an eight-point lead.
The third quarter started as a tight contest, both sides not giving an inch to the opposition. Casey and Footscray traded shots on goal to kick minor scores before the Bulldogs converted the first major of the quarter, 12 minutes in, to make it a one-point ball game.
The Demons replied with a goal from Toby Bedford but the Bulldogs then kicked away to take a 14-point lead at the final break.
Footscray continued its control of the match in the last quarter, slamming the first three goals through.
Casey kept fighting but the Bulldogs showed why they were the only undefeated side in the competition. Footscray’s fourth goal of the quarter certainly put it beyond doubt for Casey to take a 40-point lead.
The Bulldogs kept kicking away before Grey landed a couple of consolation goals to the Demons late.
Footscray certainly flexed its muscle and showed why it is undefeated, running out 36-point victors.
“We started the game really well and it was a pleasing first quarter,” senior coach Mark Corrigan said talking to Melbourne Media post-game.
“However, what we were doing well, we just went away from quarter time onwards.
“Credit to the Bulldogs, they brought the fight and brought it for longer and we weren’t able to stand up to it.
“In the second quarter, there was a period of around 20 minutes that we went away from doing the really little things well and the simple brilliance we like to work towards.
“So, the game was a bit closer than we would have liked at half time, and to their credit, they played a really strong game of football in the second half.
“There is a lot we can work on, and it’s great, we were challenged by a very good side and for us, we have had a really strong start to the year. They are the sort of games you want (to play).
“Hopefully, next week we come back and learn from it.”
Whilst the result wasn’t the intended outcome, Corrigan was certainly happy with the performance of the older players in the group.
“Players like Nathan Jones were strong for four quarters, Mitch White up forward, Corey Ellison kept turning up and competing for us, which was pleasing.
“Then Neville Jetta and Jay Lockhart behind the ball, those guys are experienced and have played AFL and know what it’s about and kept playing the right way.”
The Demons will now turn their attention to the Northern Bullants who have come off a 30-point loss to Werribee.
And whilst the Bullants sit 18th on the ladder, they certainly are no easy beat. Before the lockdown, the Bullants had won their past three on the trot including wins over Carlton and Richmond.
Casey Demons 6.4 7.5 8.9 10.9.69
Footscray 0.1 6.3 11.5 16.10.106
Goals: George Grey 3, Mitch White 2, Corey Ellison, Kye Declase, Oskar Baker, Nathan Jones, Toby Bedford
Best: Nathan Jones, Mitch White, Kye Declase, Corey Ellison, Jay Lockhart, Neville Jetta