CAMPERDOWN has earned another shot at claiming their maiden open netball premiership after prevailing in an epic battle against North Warrnambool at the Reid Oval.
The Magpies qualified for a third straight top-grade Hampden league decider courtesy of a thrilling extra-time victory in last Saturday’s preliminary final.
Camperdown broke the opening centre pass of the match to draw first blood on the scoreboard, however it proved somewhat of a lacklustre term from both sides, as the Eagles led 8-5 after 15 minutes of netball.
The Finch sisters switched bibs at the first break, with Emily moving out to goal attack while Jaymie shifted to shooter.
The change had an immediate impact, as the Magpies scored the first three goals of the term to draw level.
The Eagles soon regained ascendency, building on their advantage as the quarter progressed, leading 20-14 at half-time.
The Magpies made adjustments at the break with Leah Sinnott, who was suffering from the flu, heading to the bench replaced by the lively Ashlea Spokes, while Olivia Hickey entered the game at wing defence for Olivia Henzen, who had played her allotted six quarters after earlier lining up in the 17 and under match.
The third term proved very segmented, both sides were able to string together consecutive goals in patches, as the Eagles’ lead fluctuated between four and seven.
Camperdown began to shoot the ball with better accuracy late in the term, as an Emily Finch goal on the siren reduced the deficit to six at three quarter time.
The Magpies again opted for fresh legs in the midcourt, with Chelsea Baker coming on to centre, replacing Caitlin Hall, who moved to wing defence.
Baker had already played a full match at 17 and under level, but her superior court coverage injected life into the Magpies.
Camperdown broke the opening centre pass, netting the first two goals of the term to be back within four.
The accuracy of North’s goalies had noticably dropped, however they were able to capitalise on a number of second chance rebounds.
By this time Jaymie Finch was right on top of opponent Jordyn Billings and was responsible for her side’s opening nine goals of the quarter, as scores moved to 42-38.
Emily Finch joined the party to get the Magpies back within three before an uncharacteristic airball let the Eagles off the hook, who duly converted at the other end.
With three minutes remaining, the margin sat at five goals, and the Magpies’ season was on tenterhooks.
Emily Finch reduced the gap to four, then Emma Wright and Brooke Richardson both took intercepts in the defensive circle, and all of a sudden the Magpies drew level at 45-all with 10 seconds remaining.
North Warrnambool had the ensuing centre pass but a breaking call handed the ball to Camperdown, who ultimately ran out of time.
There was an air of excitement in the Magpies’ huddle, as what was unthinkable with only three minutes to play, was about to become reality.
Camperdown had not led since the opening goal of the game until Emily Finch scored first in extra-time.
Eagles’ shooters Annie Blackburn and Sophie Chow both missed from under the post before Blackburn was able to level at 46-all.
Jaymie Finch again shot truly, before a loose ball from the Eagles was picked up by Wright, as Camperdown scored the next two to lead 49-46.
The contest then went goal-for-goal until the completion of the first seven and a half minute period, with the Magpies leading 52-50 at the change of ends.
Emily Finch had appeared to tire towards the end of four quarters, however she found a new lease of life during extra-time, scoring the first two goals of the second period to give the Magpies a 54-50 buffer.
Camperdown again went into attack, but North won the ball before Billings sent Jaymie Finch crashing to the ground on the very next play and gifted the Magpies the ball under the post.
By this time Camperdown had scored the first five goals of the second period, as the Eagles appeared to be spent both physically and mentally.
The Magpies’ defensive end was clearly on top, getting hands over the ball at every opportunity and rebounding missed shots.
Richardson again had the read on North’s attacking movement to claim another intercept, and the Magpies opened a seven goal advantage.
The Eagles finally scored courtesy of Chow, before a fast-handed feed from Spokes set up Emily Finch to restore the margin.
Chow would again bring the deficit back to six, before Jaymie Finch sealed the deal for the Magpies with her 34th goal of the match, Camperdown winning 59-52.
Amazingly, the Magpies scored 25 of the last 35 goals en route to booking a grand final appearance against minor premiers Koroit.
Ultimately, the match-winning move was made at half-time with the introduction of Spokes to wing attack.
She was named best on court, her speedy movement and ability to find an open shooter with pin-point circle feeding proving crucial in the outcome.
Emma Wright got better as the match went on, claiming a number of intercepts and making good body position to claim vital rebounds.
Jaymie Finch proved clutch under pressure for the Magpies, shooting with great accuracy when the match was up for grabs.
All 10 Camperdown players who took the court played their role, while North appeared reliant upon a core seven to get the job done.
The Magpies now turn their attention to a formidable Koroit outfit, who have lost just one match this season.