CAMPERDOWN is through to its first Hampden league senior football grand final in 12 years after defeating Koroit in the second semi-final on Saturday.
The two sides ground out a tough, contested match in the first three quarters, before the Magpies surged with four unanswered goals in the final term to win 9.10 (64) to 8.8 (44).
Camperdown coach Phil Carse was pleased with his side’s win against Koroit, which was their first against the Saints since round 11, 2013.
“I thought it was a terrific performance from the boys to stand up on the big stage,” he said.
“We certainly haven’t beaten them in my four years, I think every time we’ve played we’ve lost by more than 50 points, so that in itself was a feat.
“The defensive pressure our guys brought from the outset was terrific and eventually wore them down.”
Carse was thrilled his side was able to book its spot in the decider, but having ticked off that goal, he said the focus was now on finishing the job at the Reid Oval on September 22.
“I mean it’s a fantastic achievement for the group to get to where it’s got to on the back of low external expectations,” he said.
“It’s a credit to the boys for getting this far, but as a group we know there is a big game to go and the job ain’t done yet.”
Camperdown were first to hit the scoreboard in the opening term, with a goal from a free kick handing the Magpies the perfect start.
But it was their lead was short-lived as Koroit was quick to hit back, kicking four unanswered goals to take a 16 point lead into quarter time.
“I thought we started the game really well in the first six or seven minutes and we kicked the first goal through Fraser Lucas,” Carse said.
“But for the next 20 minutes things went against us, we had a few free kicks and a 50 metre penalty (that led to goals).”
Goals to Locky Bone, Jesse Gallichan and Cameron Spence early in the second term put Camperdown back in front before Koroit steadied with a goal of their own to reclaim a four point buffer heading into half-time.
Carse said the second quarter mirrored the first in some aspects, but added the difference proved to be coming from his midfield.
He said the likes of Gallichan, Spence, Sam Cunnington, Riley Arnold, Luke Clarke and Fraser Lucas set the tone in the centre of the ground and quelled the influence of the Saints’ ball winners.
“Probably similar to the first quarter, we came out of the blocks firing,” Carse said.
“Our first 10 minutes were super; we kicked a couple of goals (to reduce the margin).
“It was a bit of an arm wrestle for the back end of the quarter, but we were able to defend really well.”
Koroit started the better of the two sides in the third term and extended their lead to 10 points with a goal after seven minutes of play.
The Magpies were quick to respond however, as Riley Arnold kicked a snap goal from a stoppage to bring the margin back to four points.
Neither side could capitalise on opportunities inside 50 for the rest of the quarter, with the Saints adding two behinds to hold a six point lead at the last change.
Carse said his side’s third quarter proved decisive in the end result.
“To be honest, it was our most pleasing quarter,” he said.
“Koroit had the aid of the breeze and were looking to gain the ascendency.
“But we were able to make it an arm wrestle; we kept the play on the defensive side of the ground and kept it to one goal each for the quarter.”
The first five minutes of the last quarter saw both sides kick behinds, before the Magpies reduced the margin to a point shortly after through a free kick from Arnold.
Nick Bateman had the chance to put Camperdown in front five minutes later, but he missed his set shot, levelling the score.
Neither side could gain control of the next five minute period, with the game’s arm wrestle continuing before Arnold added his third goal.
He burst clear in the middle of the ground and gathered on the run, before kicking towards goal from 60 metres out, with the ball bouncing through from the goal square, putting Camperdown six points ahead.
The Magpies’ advantage was extended to 12 points after a Matthew Field set shot at the 22 minute mark, before Luke O’Neil sealed the match shortly after.
He converted from the goal square after a free kick was followed by two 50 metre penalties with the Magpies finishing 20 point victors.
Entering the last quarter, Carse said he knew he needed to remind his side of what was at stake to ensure they played the match out strongly.
He said he gave his players a few simple instructions to follow and was pleased with how the plan came to fruition.
“My thoughts were that we were within four points and we knew we had the aid of the breeze and were in a good position but I knew we couldn’t rely on that,” Carse said.
“We needed to focus on doing the basics, winning the contested footy and play a smart brand of footy by playing on the top of the ground.
“The boys played to instructions terrifically.”
Carse praised Mitch Danahay, Luke O’Neil and Brendan Richardson for their jobs on Tim McIntyre, Will Couch and Jared Korewha, while he said Gallichan was good on Liam Hoy after quarterb time.
He said Jason Robinson was again influential across half-back, while Arnold and Bone provided a spark across the forward line; however he was pleased with the collective effort across the ground.
“Similar to other weeks, it’s been a fantastic contribution from the 21, so the group can hold their heads high,” Carse said.
With a week’s break now ahead of them, Carse said his side would train as normal on Tuesday and Thursday this week, with another training run and team lunch on Saturday.