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Having played their first three games at their fortress at the south east fringe of town, the Casey Demons took their game on the road for the first time in 2023 when they ventured to the other side of our great metropolis to come out trumps by 40 points against Essendon VFL and retain their hold on top spot on the VFL ladder.

The Casey faithful could not have been happier at the sight of The NEC Hangar when they arrived at the ground in the shadows of Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport in the vicinity of the abode of the legendary Kerrigan family from the classic movie The Castle.

A beautiful playing surface, the wind swirling across an open tree lined ground — a veritable northern suburban version of their own fortress and another Casey castle. And with the odd lashing of rain mixed in with heavy clouds followed by emerging blue skies, the Demons proceeded to completely smother the Bombers as they had done to others in the opening three games of the season.

Casey had first aid of the breeze and had the better of things early but were punished by their inaccuracy in front of goal, scoring five behinds before Josh Schache  nailed their first major. He also scored their second to put his team ahead by the margin of those five points at the end of the first term. They retained control through a strongly fought out second quarter but this time, it was the home side’s turn to miss the big sticks. At half time, they led by seven points.

Early in the second half it was all Essendon but the Bombers were constantly rebuffed by a powerful Casey defence headed by Daniel Turner until the Demons broke forward to score a goal against the run of play from youngster Tyler Edwards after an outstanding display of desperation football from James Harmes who bustled his way through traffic with a sensational chain of handballs to advantage that ended in the hands of his teammate. 

This was the signal for the visitors to take control of the midfield through the agency of Harmes, Luke Dunstan, Bailey Laurie and Taj Woewodin. It was all one way traffic for the remainder of the quarter with goals coming one after another. When the dust settled at three quarter time, the Demons held an unassailable six goal lead which they stretched to 40 points by the end of the game. The final half of football had yielded them seven goals to one.

Following Melbourne’s disappointing performance against Essendon in Adelaide, all eyes were on their twelve AFL listed players. Were any contenders out their for senior berths against Richmond on Anzac Eve?

Harmes was outstanding with 32 disposals and five clearances in his comeback game after a couple of weeks out for personal reasons. He was in the thick of things from the get go, already had 17 touches at the main break, was the catalyst in that first goal of the second half and continued to work hard to ensure the game was out of the opposition’s hands by early in the final term.

Schache followed up his strong 3 goal performance against Frankston with four goals to go with his 19 possessions, eight marks, seven hitouts and three clearances in a dominant performance. Laurie (32 disposals and four clearances) was also in everything with his clever play and his hand is well and truly up for the spot vacated by Charlie Spargo who was concussed just before half time in Adelaide. Dunstan picked up 24 possessions and kicked a goal and other leading possession gatherers were Woewodin (22), defender Turner (20) who was outstanding and Blake Howes (19). 

Casey was missing the injured tackling machine James Munro and experienced Matt Buntine who joined skipper Mitch White on the sidelines. In their place, the Demons were well served by Jack Bell who, though beaten in the ruck duels by a bigger AFL listed opponent, was solid with his marking and strong play around the ground, the hardworking George Grey and forward Ryan Valentine who kicked a career high three goals.

The end result saw the Demons holding fort at the top of the ladder. They remain the kings of the VFL castle.

CASEY DEMONS 2.5.17 5.7.37 10.8.68 12.10.82

ESSENDON VFL 2.0.12 4.6.30 4.8.32 5.12.42


CASEY DEMONS Schache 4 Valentine 3 Bell Dunstan Edwards Neocleous Sestan

ESSENDON VFL Voss 2 Munkara Phillips Sutton


CASEY DEMONS Harmes Schache Laurie Bell Dunstan Turner Woewodin 

ESSENDON VFL Hobbs Bryan Rasinac Phillips Fitzgerald Hoare


Jed Adams 7 kicks 2 handballs 9 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 35 dream team points
Jack Bell 1 goal 9 kicks 7 handballs 16 disposals 6 marks 3 tackles 10 hit outs 86 dream team points
Paddy Cross 4 kicks 3 handballs 7 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 28 dream team points
Luke Dunstan 1 goal 12 kicks 12 handballs 24 disposals 7 marks 1 tackle 89 dream team points
Tyler Edwards 1 goal 5 kicks 4 handballs 9 disposals 1 mark 89 dream team points
Tom Freeman 8 kicks 2 handballs 10 disposals 3 marks 2 tackles 46 dream team 12 points 2 
Max Gregory 8 kicks 4 handballs disposals marks 1 tackle 39 dream team points
George Grey 9 kicks 5 handballs 14 disposals 5 marks 3 tackles 64 dream team points
James Harmes 15 kicks 17 handballs 32 disposals 6 marks 1 tackle 97 dream team points
Blake Howes 13 kicks 7 handballs 20 disposals 5 marks 2 tackles 74 dream team points
Matt Jefferson 1 behind 3 kicks 3 handballs 6 disposals 1 mark 2 tackles 28 dream team points
Bailey Laurie 2 behinds 16 kicks 16 handballs 32 disposals 2 marks 1 tackle 89 dream team points
Andy Moniz-Wakefield 2 behinds 5 kicks 4 handballs 9 disposals 4 tackles 35 dream team points
Harvey Neocleous 1 goal 3 kicks 5 handballs 8 disposals 2 marks 3 tackles 44 dream team points
Josh Schache 4 goals 2 behinds 12 kicks 7 handballs 19 disposals 8 marks 1 tackle 7 hit outs 114 dream team points
Oliver Sestan 1 goal 1 behind 9 kicks 2 handballs 11 disposals 4 marks 53 dream team points
Miles Shepherd 4 kicks 2 handballs 6 disposals  2 marks 19 dream team points
Tim Sheridan 3 kicks 3 handballs 6 disposals 3 marks 2 tackles 33 dream team points
Deaykin Smith 7 kicks 7 handballs 14 disposals 4 marks 2 tackles 56 dream team points
Roan Steele 9 kicks 5 handballs 14 disposals 5 marks 46 dream team points
Daniel Turner 16 kicks 3 handballs 19 disposals 4 marks 2 tackles 71 dream team points
Ryan Valentine 3 goals 6 kicks 2 handballs 8 disposals 2 marks 2 tackles 53 dream team points
Taj Woewodin 1 behind 11 kicks 11 handballs 22 disposals 3 marks 3 tackles 74 dream team points


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