By Paul Pickering
JACK Watts’ days at Casey would appear to be numbered.
The top AFL draft pick booted four goals in the Scorpions’ 73-point win over Coburg on Saturday to further press his claim for selection with Melbourne.
Watts was the headliner in a star-studded Casey forward line that boasted fellow AFL-listers Brad Miller, Austin Wonaeamirri, Neville Jetta, Michael Newton and Addam Maric for the round-five clash at Casey Fields.
Not surprisingly, the Scorpions kicked their highest score of the season – 18.17 (125) – and completely dominated the struggling Tigers.
Coach Brad Gotch later revealed that club insiders had spoken of Saturday’s side, which also boasted highly-regarded Demons Cale Morton and Joel McDonald, as the most balanced since the Casey-Melbourne alignment began in 2009.
“I was quietly confident today that we could go well,” Gotch said.
“You look at the three talls (Watts, Miller and Newton) plus Jetta, Maric and Wonaeamirri … and that potency gives confidence to the guys further up the ground.
“It was very pleasing, because we hadn’t kicked over 100 points this year, so it’s a good win against a side that pushed (Sandringham) to within eight points last week.”
Both sides wasted some scoring opportunities in the first quarter as they acclimatised to the soggy surface.
So it was Watts, who converted two set shots in three minutes midway through the term, who provided the touch of class that guided his side to a 12-point quarter-time lead.
The cracks began to appear in an undersized and outclassed Coburg defence early in the second term, as Casey midfielders James Wall, Jordan Gysberts and Danny Nicholls upped the supply to their forward unit.
The result was a six-goal-to-one quarter, highlighted by a brilliant snap goal from the effervescent Jetta.
The Scorpions lost their competitive edge in the third term and barely added to a 50-point halftime buffer, but refocussed – thanks in part to a spray from Gotch at the break – to complete the rout in the last.
Gotch was justified in describing it as “a pretty even team performance” from the Scorpions, praising his defence – led by the in-form Michael Stockdale – as much as his multi-faceted attack.
But it was the performances of Watts and Gysberts that were most heartening for the Casey’s Melbourne contingent.
When Watts doubled back into a forward pocket in the first minute of the second half, reeled in a mark with his left hand and waltzed past two defenders to kick his third goal, the Dees’ hierarchy must have glimpsed a bright future for the club.
Gysberts, who was Melbourne’s third pick in last November’s draft, was swift and clean throughout and looks ready for his AFL debut. Omitted Demons McDonald and Jake Spencer were both prominent, while key defender Tom McNamara shaded tall Tigers youngster Ben Griffiths.
Coburg’s Richmond-listed stars Jordan McMahon and Mitch Morton had little impact on the contest, leaving much of the grunt work to AFL rookie David Gourdis, skipper Nick Carnell and the hard-working Rhett Jordon.
The win sent the Scorpions into third spot on the ladder ahead of this Saturday’s meeting with 2009 grand finalist the Northern Bullants at Casey Fields.
Meanwhile, boom off-season recruit Scott Simpson was named among Casey’s best players in the reserves on Saturday as he continues to recover from a serious ankle injury.
By Paul Pickering