By Tyler Lewis
Casey got back to its best defensively on the weekend in a brutal win over old nemesis, Collingwood.
With an intensifying wind going towards one end, Magpies skipper Alex Woodward won the toss and strangely went against the breeze.
And it seemed to be a masterstroke nine minutes in when the Pies were leading two goals to one.
But the Demons clicked into gear and halted the Pies, keeping them goalless from the nine minute mark of the opening term to the early stages of the last.
Kade Chandler got the Dees on the board inside a minute of the match before the Pies put them on the ropes with the wind at the first huddle.
When the heavens opened up, it was a territory game, and Casey’s Josh Wagner was the first to show his adaptability by sliding a long range ball from the stoppage to give the Demons back the lead just after the first interval.
Jack Hutchins and Mitch White proved to be a dynamic duo when they set each other up for opportunities on goal several times in the second term before Josh Wagner kicked an almost identical major in the third term to extend the margin.
Back-to-back goals from Daniel Stanford and Andrew Gallucci brought the Demons’ advantage back within two points before Alex Neal-Bullen – who had a quiet day – stepped up late to kick two final term majors and finish the job for his side, 8.9 (57) to 5.12 (42).
Coming into the match, Casey coach Sam Radford wasn’t focusing on the opportunity of finals – believing the ladder would take care of itself, but wanted to see his side play the four quarters.
“We certainly defended really well for four quarters that’s for sure,” he said.
“It was probably our best defensive game for a long time, Collingwood are a really good ball movement team and we were able to restrict the number of marks and handballs.
“We stopped the way they wanted to play which was really positive – the rest of the game was pretty solid and (there’s) still some room for improvement but (I’m) really rapt with how the boys went about it.”
Brayden Preuss had another sensational game in the ruck, compiling 75 hit-outs, which was double the Collingwood side as a collective. Radford speaks highly of the Melbourne big man and enjoys when he is in his side.
“He gave us first use – Collingwood are a really good team so any advantage in that area was really important,” he said.
“Brayden certainly gives us first use and impacts around the ground as well as getting his hand on it.
“Every game Brayden has played at VFL level this year he has been outstanding for us.”
The Casey Fields oval has come under some scrutiny as of late when the last game resulted in two injuries to Geelong players. The match this week against Frankston is a floating fixture with the ground being assessed on Wednesday.
Radford isn’t too fussed with where his side plays, as long as they deliver on possibly their final game of the year.
“We will play anywhere, wherever we need to play,” he said.
“We have had some pretty good wins away this year.
“It doesn’t matter where we play, we will be ready to go.”