By Hayley Wildes
It was only one game and it was against a struggling team, but the Casey Demons look to have turned a corner at Casey Fields on Sunday afternoon against Collingwood.
Proudly wearing guernseys that honoured the history of Springvale Football Club, the Demons finally produced a four-quarter effort after being unable to do so through the first nine rounds of the VFL season.
There were terrific performances across the board and perhaps no one was more important and influential than skipper Mitch White. He started the game strongly by booting a first quarter goal, and his work as a strong target down the line and in the forward 50 was massive all day.
The first quarter was a sight for sore eyes for Casey fans as the team’s famous pressure and hunt for the ball was back to its best. Despite inaccuracy in front of goal, the Demons entered quarter-time with a 17-point lead.
After Collingwood kicked the only goal in the opening stages of the second quarter, Casey finished the first half in style by booting three goals in six minutes – and it was a stretch that would ultimately set up their win.
The work of Melbourne-listed players Jay Kennedy-Harris, Jay Lockhart (14 disposals each), Jordan Lewis (13 disposals) and Kyle Dunkley (two goals) was crucial in the first half as Casey entered the main break with a 34-point lead, 7.11 (53) to 3.1 (19).
Dunkley, the former Gippsland Power star who joined Melbourne in the AFL mid-season draft last month, was impressive in his second game for Casey and there’s no doubt Melbourne fans will be getting excited about his future.
Casey’s dominance continued in the early stages of the third term as Corey Wagner and Alex Neal-Bullen slotted majors, before Collingwood responded with consecutive goals late in the term to see the Demons lead by 33 points at the final break.
With the game well in hand, Casey showed its ruthlessness with a dominant fourth quarter that provided a handy percentage boost. Six goals to one in the fourth term signalled party time for the Demons as they ran away with a 63-point win, 15.12 (102) to 6.3 (39).
Jordan Lewis (30 disposals), Kade Kolodjashnij (28 disposals), Corey Wagner (27 disposals and two goals) and Jay Lockhart (25 disposals) all made strong cases for an AFL recall, while Jimmy Munro (28 disposals), Mitch White (23 disposals and three goals) and Kyle Dunkley (21 disposals and three goals) played dynamic roles across the ground.
In his second game for Casey, Cranbourne’s Anthony Vella (11 disposals) again looked at home at VFL level with his dashing run and ability to break lines a real highlight.
The Demons sit 11th on the ladder with a 3-6 record, but are just six points behind eighth-placed Box Hill. That type of game has to be the benchmark for the Demons going forward and if they can produce that effort week in, week out, they will quickly rise up the ladder and become a real threat at the business end of the season.