It was a strange day at Willy today, for the most part it was a benign day but on field it was perhaps the most spiteful game I've seen for a long time. I just got the impression that the stand alone Williamstown decided to really serve it up to a Casey team peppered with AFL talent. You would regularly look behind play to see a Casey player doubled over on the ground with the play a good 50 to 100 metres away. It's not brave to be a thug and Williamstown go the beating they deserved. Most impressively the Casey players didn't retaliate but played the ball and won the game pretty handsomely.
When I walked along the beautiful Williamstown foreshore Port Phillip Bay was a mirror, not a ripple on the water and it stayed that way pretty much until the last quarter when a 2 to 3 goal wind sprung up favouring the Williamstown end. Casey held on well but I'll let KC provide his usual excellent summary. Anyway here is how I thought the Demons went on the day.
Dom Tyson: Played as an inside mid and did his usual bullocking role and was probably our best at the stoppages. He didn't seem to find as much of the ball as last week but used it well, particularly by hand. He's not in ripping form but he's continuing to apply himself and work his way into good form.
Billy Stretch: His teammates call him Bill so perhaps I should get up to date but he was pretty good again today. He again played mainly on the ball and didn't do as well around the stoppages as previous weeks but was good on the outside running to space and providing options to his teammates and doing a lot of link up play. His disposal was generally good and he had clean hands in contested situations. He continued his excellent form putting his name before the selectors. Having said all of that, and I'm a fan, he doesn't present as someone who will impose himself at AFL level. Reality is I think he's a very nice footballer but doesn't have any tricks or particular skill to hang his hat on to demand a spot in the team. He'll do a job if he comes in but there will have to be an opening I think. But his game is developing steadily and he is still young by AFL standards.
Sam Frost: pretty important game for Sam today and I think he let himself down a bit. Took a very good mark early in the game but from there he struggled to be clean and made a number of mistake letting the ball go over the back. His best is very good but there is a variance between his best and worst which is a worry at AFL level. He finished strongly particularly in the last. If he gets the nod next week fair enough but whilst you'll appreciate some cameo's you'll have you heart in your mouth at times as well.
Cam Pedersen: Cam's too good for this level and demonstrated today against VFL opposition he can dominate. His marking, particularly above his head, is very strong at this level and his work rate and courage were excellent today. He started to dominate in the second half and kicked a number of very good goals. Interestingly he started the third and fourth quarters as the senior ruck and played that position for 5 or 10 minutes but he looked so much more dangerous forward. I thought he was "training" to replace Tim Smith if he doesn't come up but sadly he was knocked out with about 10 minutes to go when his head hit the ground in a marking contest. I was standing a few metres from the incident and it was pretty upsetting to see him immediately after the incident. He managed to get to his feet after a few minutes and get to off the ground with the assistance of a couple of trainers but as a layman I'd be stunned if he didn't have concussion and it would be a surprise if he played next game. A sad end to a really good performance.
Jay KH: Busy and effective for most of the game without dominating. He's a nice player at this level but he's in the queue for a game and he's not at the head of it. But a good solid game and showed some courage after coming back on after what looked to be a very nasty blow to the groin well behind play. He was the victim of some of the off the ball thuggery that went on today.
Sam Weideman: Pretty much unsighted early but worked his way into the game and ended up being a fairly good player. It was a tight contested game where clean entry into 50 was not common and he did most of his good work up the ground and on the ball. Rucked for periods of the game and competed well but didn't really impose himself at ball ups.
Harley Balic: I've been impressed by him since I saw him play against Frankston in the practice match in the preseason and today was another good impactful game. He was the target of two or three attempts by Williamstown to hurt him off ball and he copped a lot of behind the play attention but keep presenting and played very well. He's got good skills and knows how to find it but the only query on him is his pace. He's not slow but he's certainly not fast and he will make it at AFL level if his pace isn't a deal breaker. He has the knack of finding that ball with time but I just don't know how that will translate itself to AFL level. It will be interesting to see how he goes if he gets the opportunity.
Jayden Hunt: Got lots and lots of the ball and it would appear he's been told to take the game on at every opportunity. As a result he was caught often and turned it over often and you could see the frustration on his face. He's also been told to lower his eyes I'd imagine and he's still learning when to go long and when to go short. But I get the sense that he's working his way back into form and that he'll be left at Casey to really "get it right" so that when he comes back into the seniors he's full of confidence. That's my guess anyway and unless it becomes necessary to promote him early he's got a few more weeks at Casey. To his credit he's clearly giving it his heart and sole. Jayden was also the target of two really hasty incidents both by the same player I think. The first time he was driven into the boundary line when the ball was well out and the second was when he received an elbow to the back of the head in an incident similar to the Rance/Watts one some years ago. He was particularly groggy after the second and someone mentioned that the player had been reported but I can't confirm that.
Tommy Bugg: Not a good day for the Buggster today. He's not impacting when he's forward and not finding heaps of it when he goes on the ball. His kicking today, which has been pretty good the last few weeks, was back to his worst. That might have been affected by the fact he was ironed out miles behind the play and had a number of trainers attend to him.
Oscar Baker: Another "Oscar" game today. For those that have read my previous posts he was just the same. Runs well, gets it a bit, quick without being blistering and a good kick. Decision making and execution need work. For all that there is a fair bit to like I think he's got a distance to go and if he can get his weaknesses sorted out he could be a good AFL player.
Mitch King: Played forward with little effect getting his only goal (I think) from a free and struggling to impose himself in the ruck. Flipper had a better game than Mitch today and if he wants to survive I think he'll have to lift his game.
Harrison Petty: I'm a fan but not today. Was well down on last weeks form and just went. He did a few nice things but just didn't seem to be able to get into the game.
Jeff Garlett: Played like an opportunist cat today. Seemed to continually want to do "will of the whisp" type things and on occasions he did but it's hard to see him fitting into the hard running tackling philosophy of our AFL team.
Dion Johnstone: Best game I've seen Dion play. He was involved, he got a bit of it and he used the ball very well. Played back again but seemed to have the confidence to provide options for his teammates. This kid can kick the ball beautifully. Long and powerful over long distance and precise over shorter distance. His problem in the past is he hasn't got it enough but he got it a bit today and we saw what he could do. I was pretty convinced a few weeks ago he'd struggle to stay on the list but I'm not so sure now. Not a certainty to make it by any stretch of the imagination but he's got all the qualities Goody will like. He applies himself, he's tough, he tackles and he applies pressure.
Jost Wagner: Good solid game from Josh, he's got a lot of good attributes and he's a good size too. At this level he kicks it pretty well, he's brave and he works hard. He'll be a foot soldier but there are spots in teams for that. A few years ago he'd be best 22 but there are a few in front of him now.
Joel Smith: I thought Joel was clearly one of our best today. He has a slow start but he worked his way into the game well. His kicking has really improved from last year and he's clean with his hands and seems to have a bit of poise he lacked last year. He's quick, has great lateral movement and just a great athlete. He was involved in an incident in the last quarter on the other side of the ground to me and took a long time to get up and went off the ground. He came back on about 10 minutes later with a bandage around his head but was soon off again. I hope he's not hurt as to me he shows clear AFL attributes and is a genuine challenger for a spot in the team at some stage this year.
Lach Filipovic: Was the best of our rucks today and did a little bit around the ground but our rucks are young and don't impose themselves on the game as yet. I think he's got a nice skill set but he's a long way from AFL footy.
Dec Keilty: I always feel uncomfortable commenting on Dec because we all love Drunkn's contribution and as a result Dec is a bit of a favourite. But I thought he was just okay today doing some useful things but a long way from imposing himself on the game in any way. As ever he was willing, reliable and committed but I don't think he's in the conversation to replace Jake.