Wet conditions at VU Whitten Oval on Saturday afternoon saw a valiant Footscray outfit go down to the undefeated Casey Demons, suffering a 23-point loss.
It was a promising start for Footscray against the undefeated Casey, who were within striking distance all day, before the Demons ran away 6.7 (43) to 9.12 (66) victors.
Rain cleared before play commenced, but it returned to litter the first quarter and the rest of the action as the first score (behind) of the game came 14 minutes in.
The game was mostly played between the arcs, with the Bulldogs opting to control possession a bit more with kicks and marks, with neither team getting clear to score a major.
The returning Stef Martin held onto a mark inside 50 and kicked truly for the first goal of the game 26 minutes in, giving the Dogs a five-point lead at the first change.
The Demons worked their way back into the game to start the second quarter, kicking the first four goals.
The Dogs eventually kicked back-to-back goals on the back of some sturdy defence and quality conversions from Sam Darcy and Arthur Jones with the heavy Sherrin to make it a 13-point game at the main break.
A Casey goal in the first minute of the second half extended the margin to 19 points, before the red, white, and blue answered with three on the trot to make it a three-point game.
As they had done all game when in control of the momentum, the Dogs controlled the field position and did not allow easy exits for Casey, locking the ball in the forward half for repeat entries inside 50.
It was a nine-point game at the final change, as Casey’s undefeated season was on the line with the rain coming down hard in the final quarter.
Unfortunately for the Dogs, the Demons ran away with the game in the end as the margin stood at 23.
The veteran Stef Martin was brilliant in return, showing great mobility and cleanliness with ball in hand to add some much needed depth to the ruck stocks.
He would often find the ball below his knees in wet conditions and use the footy well, exemplified by a lovely hit up kick to find Arthur Jones for a goal in the second quarter.
He finished with 25 hitouts, 21 disposals, five marks, and a goal.
Toby McLean provided a lot of grunt inside as the ball pinballed in traffic with seven tackles, collecting 23 disposals to go with it, as the skipper Lachie Sullivan (10 tackles, six clearances) was also pivotal in that area.
Lachie Hunter showed his class and experience in the wet, making the most of his 28 disposals and 10 marks.
Tim O’Brien (21 disposals, nine marks) and Zaine Cordy (six marks) were reliable behind the ball, rebounding and halting many Casey forward forays, while Joel Garner (24 disposals, seven marks) looks to have made a home in the Footscray defence after splitting time in each third this season.
Martin’s partner in crime Jordon Sweet dominated the ruck with 30 hitouts, as the Dogs finished +35 in that department.
With the ruck pairing of Sweet and Martin, Darcy spent the game forward and still managed to show his aerial prowess despite the unfriendly conditions for key forwards.
He finished with 12 disposals, seven marks, and a goal, with a couple of other opportunities to score not going his way.
Meanwhile Louis Butler and Nathan Drummond (13 kicks, 11 marks) provided sound heads with ball in hand when Footscray looked to control the play for periods of the game.
Footscray will head to Avalon Airport Oval to play against Werribee next Saturday 30 July at 2:05pm.
Footscray 1.2 3.6 6.6 6.7 (43)
Casey 0.3 5.7 7.9 9.12 (66)
Goals: Martin, Darcy, Jones, Raak, Vandermeer, Sullivan.