Werribee could well be playing for its finals future when it squares off against the Casey Demons at Casey Fields on Saturday night in its final home-and-away game of the season.
Saturday, August 26
4pm and 7pm at Casey Fields, Cranbourne East
The Story So Far
With just one game of the home-and-away season to go, Werribee is still holding out hope for a finals berth, but its loss to the Northern Blues last week – its third in a row – means it needs a lot to go its way over the final round. The required outcomes of Port Melbourne beating Collingwood on Saturday and Box Hill beating the Northern Blues on Sunday are a distinct possibility, which would leave victory on Saturday night essential for survival.
That will require the Tigers to prevail over an in-form Casey outfit intent on securing a double chance. The Demons are currently a game clear in fourth spot by way of their run of five wins on the trot, which includes last week’s win over ladder leaders Williamstown, and they will need to make it six in a row to ensure they hold their spot ahead of Richmond.
Werribee and Casey squared off at Hoppers Crossing’s Hogans Road Reserve back in round four in a physical encounter that proved to be one of the games of the year. Trailing by 14 points at half time, the Tigers slowly clawed their way back to secure a 13-point win that helped kick their season into gear after a slow start.
• Dom Brew looms as a likely inclusion for Werribee, and his return will certainly be a welcome one. He and Matt Hanson have formed a formidable midfield duo through their tackling pressure and ability to win the contested ball, and the Tigers will want every bit of extra grunt in the middle they can get against a Casey side that is number one in the competition for tackles and number two for contested possessions.
• Harrison King has made an impressive return to the senior side in recent weeks, stamping his authority on the tagger role with his shut-down job against Williamstown captain Ben Jolley a fortnight ago. He looks the likeliest candidate to again perform a run-with role for Werribee, though Jake Sharp and last week’s debutante Charlie Bance could also be in the mix for a similar job.
• Through the likes of Bailey Fritsch and Jay Kennedy-Harris, Casey has built something of a “mosquito fleet” around key forward Sam Weideman this season. It may leave Werribee needing to get creative with its match-ups and play a little smaller than usual, which could even see the likes of small-forward-turned-defender Billy Iles come into consideration for his first senior game of the year.
• After sitting out last week’s loss to the Northern Blues, Western Jets ruckman Tristan Xerri returns to the Werribee line-up for a third and final game as 23rd player. The 18-year-old has had a couple of big challenges in his two outings to date in Collingwood’s Mason Cox and Williamstown’s Nick Meese, and he’ll get another big one on Saturday when he goes toe to toe with the returning Jake Spencer.
• It’s been a big year of debuts for Werribee, so it’s fitting that its final game of the home-and-away season will provide another first-game opportunity. Spiros Amarantidis joins the line-up as the Tigers’ 14th debutante for the year as a small forward who also has the ability to play through the midfield.
The Bottom Line
Casey’s success across the 2017 season has largely been defined by the sort of physicality it brought to Hoppers Crossing back in round four. Werribee showed it was up to the challenge that day, so an ability to match its opponent in physical aspects of the game such as tackling and contested possession will again be crucial. The Demons’ defensive structure can also be tough to crack, and doing so will rely on the Tigers’ midfielders being prepared to run hard all day in order to open things up and – perhaps most importantly – on the forwards taking their chances in front of goal.