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The 2017 Casey Demons season ended on a somber note at North Port Oval yesterday when they were shunted out of the VFL finals series on the back of a lacklustre second quarter in their semi final game against Richmond VFL. The Tigers were always going to be a hard nut to crack at this time of year. With just one injured player on their entire list and their senior side riding on the crest of a wave in the AFL, they were well placed in a game played on a ground not dissimilar to their own and with everything going their way for the first two and a half quarters. Casey fielded 13 AFL listed players against 19 AFL Tigers and sorely missed the services of one of their most seasoned VFL players in James Munro who injured his back early in the qualifying final at Williamstown. To compound matters, it lost Angus Brayshaw who was its best player last week to a neck injury sustained early in this game. To make matters worse, their rucks were monstered for the second week in a row. This time it was Shaun Hampson and Ivan Soldo who dominated the lacklustre Demon rucks with double their number of hit outs and performing better around the ground and in the air. The match started at frenetic pace but it was Casey that dominated much of the first quarter after Richmond scored the first goal. With Corey Maynard dominating at the stoppages, the ball spent most of the quarter in the Demons' half of the ground and they peppered the goals for far too little reward. By contrast, the Tigers seemed to have the right man in the right place for a goal on the rare occasion in which they made a foray into attack. At the 25 minute mark, Casey led by two goals but in the course of two minutes, Richmond small man Tyson Stengle got away from his opponent twice to level the scores. The Demons spent the last few minutes atttacking to establish a two point lead at the first break. Tomas Bugg kicked the first goal of the second term but after that, the Tiger floodgates opened. Despite Maynard's heroic on ball efforts for Casey, he was let down badly by teammates who constantly turned the ball over with poor disposal and decision making and their failure to cover dangerous opposition players. In a repeat of last week at Williamstown, Richmond simply ran them off their feet with a seven goal spree that had them reeling with a deficit of 39 points at half time. The presence of Munro as a stopper would have been invaluable. Despite the discrepancy in scores, the Demons held the advantage in inside 50s at this stage and throughout most of the match finishing with a 59 to 50 lead in this area. The Tiger onslaught continued until well into the third term when they led by as much as 61 points as the time on period approached. It was at this point that the Tigers relaxed, the Demons lifted and they started hitting targets. Ben Kennedy and Billy Stretch lifted with their hard running and some clever play and six goals flowed to bring the team within range if a repeat of their new found form could be performed in the final quarter. They certainly tried as they narrowed the deficit to 19 points at one stage and had their opportunities to close the gap further but Richmond steadied and time ran out. While it cannot be content with going out of the finals in straight sets for the fifth time in a decade, the club can reflect with some satisfaction on the way Justin Plapp has rebuilt the team after the exodus of so much experience at the end of last year. He managed to blend a younger AFL group with a developing group of VFL players limited this year by Melbourne's long injury list. The value of Corey Maynard's 35 disposal performance cannot be underestimated. The late bloomer converted from basketball has been a consistent performer throughout the year and with a solid pre season should progress into a regular at AFL ranks. Ironically, the only teammate who was close to him in producing a consistency four quarter game was the indefatigable warrior Jack Trengove who is only a couple of years older but whose AFL career hangs on a thread. As with every season, a number of players will not return next year. Although he was subdued yesterday, Bayley Fritsch is one who might well not be back at Casey next year but he has a definite future in the big time. Peter Jackson AFL Casey Demons 3.8.26 5.8.38 12.8.80 15.11.101 Richmond VFL 4.0.24 12.5.77 16.10.106 19.14.128 Goals Casey Demons Bugg 3 Fritsch Keilty Stretch 2 Cox Kennedy Maynard Morris Wagner Zijai Richmond VFL Stengle 4 Lloyd 3 Bolton Griffiths Lennon Menadue Mannagh 2 Morris Short Best Casey Demons Maynard Kennedy Stretch Trengove Wagner Gordon Richmond VFL Ellis Stengle Miles Hampson Bolton Darley Statistics Angus Brayshaw 1 tackle 4 dream team points (injured) Tomas Bugg 3 goals 9 kicks 7 handballs 16 disposals 6 marks 7 tackles 106 dream team points Dion Johnstone 1 behind 11 kicks 3 handballs 14 disposals 1 marks 3 tackles 49 dream team points Declan Keilty 2 goals 1 behind 7 kicks 5 handballs 12 disposals 6 marks 1 tackle 65 dream team points Ben Kennedy 1 goal 14 kicks 10 handballs 24 disposals 2 marks 4 tackles 91 dream team points Jay Kennedy-Harris 14 kicks 8 handballs 22 disposals 5 marks 7 tackles 99 dream team points Mitch King 1 kick 3 handballs 10 hit outs 16 dream team points Corey Maynard 1 goal 1 behind 14 kicks 21 handballs 35 disposals 5 marks 5 tackles 126 dream team points Jake Spencer 2 kicks 2 handballs 4 disposals 1 tackle 20 hit outs 33 dream team points Billy Stretch 2 goals 1 behinds 14 kicks 11 handballs 25 disposals 3 marks 6 tackles 110 dream team points Jack Trengove 13 kicks 17 handballs 30 disposals 3 marks 7 tackles 112 dream team points Josh Wagner 1 goal 12 kicks 8 handballs 20 disposals 1 marks 6 tackles 82 dream team points Sam Weideman 4 kicks 6 handballs 10 disposals 3 marks 1 tackles 2 hit outs 40 dream team points