This week’s match of the round is the Grand Final rematch between Casey Demons and Footscray. Mitch Wynd takes a look at this games and the rest of Round 9 matches in the Peter Jackson VFL.
The Bulldogs claimed their second VFL premiership in three years back in September, captain Jordan Russell leading his team to a 31-point triumph with Western Bulldogs-listed midfielder Lin Jong taking home the Norm Goss Medal as the best player on the ground.
Neither team has had the dominant start to the season they would have liked, with Footscray sitting in 5th and Casey in 8th on the ladder.
Footscray have dropped close games against high-flying Box Hill and Port Melbourne teams, but also lost unexpectedly to 11th placed Geelong, which has cost them a top four place at this time.
Casey has an even 4-4 record, and have done well to recover from a 1-4 start to the season. They have won their last three games straight, against Port Melbourne, Coburg, and Collingwood.
Under the Friday night lights at the VU Whitten Oval last week, Footscray claimed an important victory against Essendon, winning by a narrow 4-point margin. The Bulldogs led by 20 points at quarter time, and 13 at the half, before Essendon dragged themselves back into the lead at three-quarter time. However, two last-quarter goals to AFL premiership player Zaine Cordy sealed the win, which puts Footscray in 5th position, and Essendon in 7th.
Cordy was the only multiple goal kicker for the Bulldogs, while Lukas Webb continued his great form with 23 disposals. Tom Liberatore continues to push his case for an AFL recall with 21 touches, seven tackles, and seven inside 50s.
As for Casey, apart from a last-quarter lapse, they took care of Collingwood for much of the match, winning by a solid 19 points. The Demons outscored their opposition in each of the first three quarters, thanks to a wide spread of goalkickers. Ten individual players hit the scoreboard, ensuring that Casey was not relying solely on one player to kick a winning score.
Collingwood kicked five straight to Casey’s 2.1 in the final quarter, and while Casey had built a comfortable buffer, they would not want to repeat the lapse against the reigning premiers. Ben Kennedy was the leading possession winner for the Demons with 30 disposals, while Jake Spencer registered 40 hitouts in his return from injury.
The last time these two sides met was in the 2016 decider at Etihad Stadium. Up until half time, the match was a close-fought affair, with both teams going goal for goal. Footscray were poor in front of goal early, kicking 2.7 in the first quarter, and 4.9 for the half, while Casey took their chances with 6.3 for the half.
In the ‘premiership quarter’, the Bulldogs ran rampant, kicking 8.4 to no score. All of a sudden, the margin went from a 6-point deficit to a 46-point lead. Casey did their best to launch a comeback, but the damage had been done, and Footscray won their second VFL premiership in three years, a week before the senior Western Bulldogs team won the AFL Grand Final.
So how have the clubs changed since 2016?
- While Footscray premiership coach Ash Hansen was elevated to the club’s AFL coaching panel and replaced by Steve Grace, 18 of the 23 flag-winning Bulldogs are still on the club’s VFL or AFL lists. Only Mitch Hannan and Ben Long (drafted to Melbourne and St Kilda respectively) as well as Jed Adcock (retired), Will Minson (retired) and Koby Stevens (traded to St Kilda) are no longer at the club.
- 16 of Casey’s 23 Grand Final players are still on the club’s VFL or AFL lists, including Declan Keilty and Tim Smith who were both rookie-listed by Melbourne. The Scorpions are now Demons, and have been hit hard by the loss of prolific 2016 ball-winners Jack Grimes, Matt Jones, Viv Michie and Ben Newton, who were all delisted by Melbourne. The team’s other departures are Lynden Dunn (traded to Collingwood), Oscar McInerney (rookie-listed by Brisbane) and Dean Terlich (delisted).
Other matches this week include:
COBURG v PORT MELBOURNE – 2:00PM Saturday June 17 @ Piranha Park
LAST TIME THEY MET – Coburg 11.1 77 vs. Port Melbourne 16.12 108 – 2016 Round 11 @ Piranha Park
Coburg lost an entertaining match away to the Northern Blues last week, going down by just nine points. Trailing by 43 points at three-quarter time, Coburg nearly pulled off an unlikely comeback, kicking 6.7 to 1.3 for the final term. If the final quarter kicking had been straighter, Coburg could very well have pinched the win. Peter McEvoy kicked 4.1 along with 5 marks and 15 disposals, while Luke Bunker was the leading possession winner with 25 disposals as well as 7 tackles.
Port Melbourne had a bye after their dramatic draw against Box Hill two weeks ago. After time for reflection, they will be keen to kickstart the second part of their season with a victory against the Lions. Jordan Lisle shares equal fifth in the goal kicking tally with 17 goals alongside Essendon’s Alexander Boyse, former St Kilda player Eli Templeton averages 30.7 disposals from the opening seven matches at 70.7% efficiency.
NORTHERN BLUES v WERRIBEE – 2:10PM Saturday June 17 @ IKON Park
LAST TIME THEY MET – Werribee 25.15 165 vs. Northern Blues 15.12 102 – 2016 Round 17 @ Avalon Airport Oval
The Northern Blues were lucky late against Coburg last week, after leading by 43 points at three-quarter time they surrendered six goals to one in the final term and held on by just nine points. On the positive side, they had eleven individual goalkickers, and no player scored more than two goals, indicating a well-balanced and functioning forward line. Nick Graham was a standout player for the Blues, gathering 33 disposals, four marks, and nine tackles.
Werribee were one of the four teams to have the bye last weekend, and currently sit in 6th place. A win over the Northern Blues will draw them level on 6-2, and keep Werribee well and truly in the hunt for a top four spot. In the Channel 7 game, one team will lose its winning streak.
RICHMOND v GEELONG – 4:30PM Saturday June 17 @ Punt Road Oval
LAST TIME THEY MET – Richmond 11.16 82 vs. Geelong 6.9 45 – 2016 Round 19 @ Punt Road Oval
Both teams are fresh off a bye round, which could mean that this will be a fast-paced match with plenty of run. These two rested up squads had contrasting fortunes immediately before the bye. Richmond enjoyed a 17-point win over Essendon, while Geelong were humbled by 53 points away to Williamstown.
Both teams only have the three wins for the year, and the loser of this match will find it very difficult to make the finals. This match looks to be a season-shaper for these middle of the ladder teams.
WILLIAMSTOWN v NORTH BALLARAT – 2:00PM Sunday June 18 @ Burbank Oval (VFL Live / video stream)
LAST TIME THEY MET – North Ballarat 4.8 32 vs. Williamstown 17.21 123 – 2017 Round 5 @ Eureka Stadium
North Ballarat kept pace with Box Hill for the entire match last week, but just as they got within a kick or two of the lead, Box Hill stretched the margin back out again. All in all, it was a very gallant performance from the bottom-placed Roosters against the table-topping Hawks. Andrew Hooper was the man up forward for North Ballarat, kicking 4.2 as well as taking seven marks.
Williamstown won their important mid-table clash with Sandringham last week, though inaccurate goal kicking once again plagued the Seagulls. Leading by two points at quarter time, they kicked 1.10 in the second quarter to only lead by 12 points at half time. Fortunately, they fixed their kicking in the second half, with only three behinds for the remainder of the match, and won by 24 points. Ben Jolley was brilliant once again, with 34 disposals, eight marks, and seven tackles.
BYES – Box Hill, Collingwood, Essendon, Sandringham