CAMPERDOWN has the fourth-best defence in the Hampden league this season.
Teenager Matthew Field is one of the reasons the eighth-placed Pies’ defensive structures belie their ladder position.
Field is an attacking defender who has slotted into coach Dan Casey’s plans with aplomb.
His senior career is just five games old but he is playing a key role as part of the club’s inexperienced-yet-capable back six.
Casey rates Field, one of up to a dozen Magpie senior debutants this season.
“Since he’s come back from hurting his calf against Warrnambool, he’s been our best player,” he said.
“He’s been a ripper off half-back.”
Casey said Field had knuckled down in the pre-season and was starting to understand he could match it with forwards in the competition.
“He’s still one of the larrikins but he knows he is capable of matching it with good players now,” he said.
Field is relishing playing in Camperdown’s defence.
But he said the Magpies’ inexperienced defenders had ample improvement left too.
“It’s been good with Jack Williams and Fraser Lucas down there as well,” he said.
“It is pretty young but we work good together as a group.”
Field, a Bookaar division one cricketer, joined the Magpies in under 12s and now finds himself playing seniors alongside many close mates.
“We all played under 16s and under 14s together so it’s good to start playing seniors together,” he said.
“I’ve played a fair bit with Matthew Pemberton, Jake Dowell and Eddie Lucas.”
For Field, playing on bigger, stronger footballers has proved the hardest transition from juniors to seniors.
“I am tall but I am pretty skinny,” he said.
His goal for the remainder of the season is to further entrench himself in the Magpies’ top team and to help them finish with a flurry. “It’s been disappointing to be close to winning games against the better sides and not winning them,” Field said.
Casey said the Magpies would be hard pressed against Portland at Leura Oval today, entering the match without key players Fraser Lucas (corked hip), Luke Mahony (knee) and key defender Jack Williams, who was hospitalised this week because of an infection in his hip area.
“We are young,” he said.
“It’s exciting for the footy club we have all these young kids playing. We will just have to see how we go.
“If we play to our capacity we are in with a show.”
Portland coach Jake Myles said a fast start was imperative for the Tigers, who are striving for a top-three finish.
“It’s all in the head. We have to come with the right attitude, right energy and right intensity,” he said.
“We have to be in the game at quarter-time.
“There is no point travelling two hours to come home disappointed.
“They still have a glimmer of hope, their season is on the line. It’s all about the start for us.”
Myles said wins against Cobden and Terang Mortlake on the road had given the Tigers confidence they could win again away from home.
He said a win would give them some breathing space on rivals.