By Hayley Wildes
The Casey Demons sent a message to the rest of the VFL on Saturday afternoon, producing a stunning 91-point qualifying final win over Geelong on Saturday.
With the Demons entering finals on a two-game losing streak, there was a nervous energy around Casey Fields prior to the opening bounce, but any doubts were quickly dispelled in one of the most dominant finals performances in recent VFL history.
The Demons outhunted, outworked and simply outplayed the Cats from the first contest.
Two goals in the opening three minutes of the game to Will Collis had the Demons firing and there was plenty more to come as Patrick McKenna and Cam Pedersen slotted majors to have the Demons leading 24-0 after just seven minutes of play.
The Cats couldn’t get their hands on the ball as the Demons’ thirst for the contest and pressure around the ball was at an all-time high.
At quarter time, after Pedersen and McKenna booted their second majors of the day, Casey held a 35-point lead.
It was as comprehensive a quarter of finals football that Casey fans could’ve hoped for.
Just one minute into the second term the scoring continued for Casey as Pedersen converted his third major and was tearing the game apart.
Geelong kicked its first goal of the afternoon three minutes into the term and it sparked a 10-minute patch of football that yielded them two more goals, reducing Casey’s lead to 22 points.
But that was the only push Geelong made all day.
After wrestling back the momentum, Casey was rewarded for its efforts when Cory Machaya took a strong pack mark and finished it off with a set shot goal.
At the main break, Casey was in complete control with a 35-point lead. The work of Pedersen, Corey Wagner and Declan Keilty were instrumental in Casey’s first-half brilliance.
The second half was even more dominant than the first as Casey’s far superior ball movement was too much for Geelong’s defence.
An 11-goal to one second half delivered Casey a preliminary final berth and there were some spectacular highlights along the way.
Fans would’ve had Machaya pencilled in for play of the game when he kicked a ridiculous goal over his head late in the third quarter, but Mitch Hannan wasn’t to be outdone.
At the 10-minute mark of the final term, Hannan produced the mark of the day – and one of the best of the season – in the left forward pocket as he scaled the shoulders of Geelong’s Ryan Gardner.
Casey claimed the win over Geelong, 20.9 (129) to 4.14 (38).
After two weeks of poor defensive performances, Casey’s relentless defensive game style was back for all to see.
Cam Pedersen was simply superb, finishing with 25 disposals and four goals. Corey Wagner and Tom Bugg (24 disposals each) also found plenty of the ball, while Cory Machaya, Mitch Hannan and Will Collis booted three goals each.
Declan Keilty and Harrison Petty were ruthless in defence and the game of Tim Smith, who took 10 marks, was also impressive.
The Demons have earned a week off and will play the winner of Essendon and Richmond in a preliminary final next weekend.