A SERIES of inspirational text messages from injured midcourter Emily Stephens lifted top side Camperdown to a crushing win over Warrnambool at Leura Oval on Saturday.
Stephens, who snapped her Achilles tendon in the final quarter of a practice match on Thursday night, urged her teammates to put her upsetting injury behind them and dismantle the third-placed Blues.
The Magpies responded with a 64-31 victory.
In fairness to Warrnambool, the pre-game absence of centre Siobhan Sefton was compounded by an ankle injury early in the second term to goal attack Marlie Boyd. Boyd was sidelined for the rest of the game.
Camperdown coach Rachel Rodger said there was a chance her players, who were upset about losing the popular Stephens for the rest of the season, might have been flat.
"It worked the other way," Rodger said.
"We were really determined to do well. We'd been getting text messages from Emily before the game and she was saying 'go out there and do well'.
"In reality we used that to spark us."
Stephens, who had surgery on Friday morning, returned home on Saturday, but was in too much pain to watch her teammates.
Her replacement at wing defence Chelsea Castles was a good contributor. Rodger said the Magpies had been able to cover Stephens' loss.
While the attacking half had been working OK, goal shooter Narelle Welsh and goal attack Kate Wilson combined for their best game of the season, she said.
Welsh scored 43 goals, many from long range, while Wilson converted 17 of 19 attempts.
"Our defence has been working well all year but our attacking end was struggling to come together but now we are becoming a full-court team and that consistency we were lacking in the early part of the year, the last two weeks we've played four full quarters," Rodger said.
Warrnambool coach Lorraine English said the Blues were working into the match nicely until Boyd suffered the ankle injury late in the first quarter.
She said the full extent of the injury wouldn't be known for a few days but hoped Boyd would be available for Sunday's match against North Warrnambool Eagles.
English said the injury halted the Blues' momentum.
The Blues elevated teenager Kelsey Perry into the centre and moved Sarah Hearn into goal attack. English said the Blues had worked on "little things" in the remainder of the match.
The Blues regain Sefton for Sunday's showdown with fourth-placed North Warrnambool Eagles, while the Magpies square off with arch-rival Cobden, which is in fifth place.