Victorian Netball League: Preliminary Final – Casey charges toward first Grand Final

IN their inaugural season the Casey Demons claimed the unthinkable, running over the top of minor premiers City West Falcons by 19 goals (46-65) in the preliminary final. It was a tight tussle between both sides but accuracy to post proved crucial and ultimately won Casey the game, sitting at 92 per cent compared to 81 per cent. The Demons got out to an early lead and did not look back, building momentum throughout the game and sticking strong to move into their first grand final. On the other hand, the Falcons will be disappointed in their finals campaign going out in straight sets after having such a dominant season.

Casey set the tone early laying everything on the table and working hard to claim ascendancy by contesting each and every ball. The combination of Erin Bell and Emma Ryde worked wonders in the goal circle with the pair only missing six shots for the game at a whopping 92 per cent apiece. Ryde led the way under the goal post with a match high 42 goals from 46 attempts while Bell showcased her experience and play-making skills notching up 22 goals for the match. Their performance was made easier thanks to the work of Shannon Blackman and Kassidy Withers who did a wealth of work out the front to feed the ball into Bell and Ryde and create clever plays to penetrate the defence. Blackman, Withers and Brittany Mashado controlled the tempo of the game and showed great composure to work the ball around the circle edge and not force the ball into the circle, denying Falcons defenders any chance to pick off passes. Defensively Demi Woodlock and Karli Foster put on a clinic clogging up space, applying hands over pressure and using their feet to get around the body and get deflections to disrupt the flow in attack.

It was a disappointing outing for the Falcons who were simply unable to recapture that spark they had in the home and away season. There were changes aplenty with goal shooter Jane Cook earning the start before swapping ends and donning the goal keeper bib in the second half. Cook was solid under the post finding good space and putting up her fair share of shots nailing 17 from 23 before making the switch down back, plying her trade in defence to create confusion for the Casey attack but to no avail. With Cook out of attack, Sri Lankan shooter Tharjini Sivalingam took the court, using her height to full advantage and slotting 13 from 15 at 87 per cent while Madelyn Gray struggled to find the net with five goals from eight attempts showcasing the extreme pressure they were under in the circle. Through the midcourt Molly Jovic and Maggie Lind struggled to have their usual impact around circle edge but still worked tirelessly to feed into the shooters. The defensive end were unable to combat the Demons’ attacking prowess, forced to make a multitude of changes with Sarah Szczkyulski, Zoe Davies, Jacqui Newton and Cook all rotating through in hope to find a winning combination. Soli Ropati and Anger Akec worked hard in wing defence applying strong hands over pressure and denying space circle edge.

The Demons will face Geelong Cougars in the grand final on Wednesday August 14 in hope to claim an inaugural premiership in their short history.

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