NOWRA'S Maddy Collier and her Essendon VFLW team gave their all at Windy Hill in Saturday's season opener but unfortunately fell just short against Casey.
The Bombers lost 5.5 35 to 5.2-32 despite leading the way for large parts of the match, only for Demon's Maddy Guerin to slot a set shot with the last kick of the game to steal the win.
The match started as a slow, tightly contested affair with the Bombers defensive pressure keeping Casey goalless in the first quarter.
AFL South Coast product Collier was first to the scoreboard, kicking a goal just minutes before quarter time to reward the efforts of the young side.
Shae Audley booted the Bombers' second to keep them in the lead by 13 points.
But it wasn't long before Casey forwards Bianca Jakobsson and Maddy Guerin responded with back-to-back majors, helping the visitors close the margin to just one point at half-time.
The hosts came out fiery in the third quarter, thanks to their higher pressure and intensity around the ball.
Relentless tackler Hayley Bullas picked up right where she left off last season, swarming Casey at every opportunity, while skipper Courtney Ugle's defensive pressure and work rate was unmatched as she led the Bombers for the first time.
Monique DeMatteo kept the Bombers on the scoreboard with back-to-back goals, pushing the margin to 11 points in the third term.
DeMatteo scored her third major in the final term, before goals to Guerin and Jakobsson narrowed the margin to just five points.
The Dons defended gamely under siege as the match came to a close, but Guerin scored her third in the final seconds of the game to give Casey the three-point win.
Next up for Collier and her Bombers is a trip to Central Reserve in Colac to play Geelong.