CAMPERDOWN’S fading finals hope are expected to receive a big boost with the return of goal keeper Emma Wright for Saturday’s must-win game against Port Fairy.
Sixth-placed Camper-down is only a win outside the five but a poor percentage, the seventh-best in the competition, means it is effectively two wins behind Portland.
Coach Tracey Baker said Wright, who suffered a foot fracture after a teammate accidentally stood on her while on the dance floor at a club function, was out of the moon boot she had sported for almost two weeks.
“She will train this week,” Baker said.
“I expect her to play.”
Baker said the injury had come at a bad time for the Magpies.
They suffered a percentage-draining loss to Koroit and then on Saturday were crucially beaten by Portland to give the Tigers the front-running for the final spot in the five.
“We’ve really missed Emma,” she said.
All interest is in which sides can finish fourth and fifth with four sides having mathematical possibilities of sneaking into one of the two spots.
Seventh-placed Port Fairy, three wins outside the five, is the long shot. After battling with injuries and player unavailability, the Seagulls need to win all four games to make the five but with clashes against Camperdown and second-placed North Warrnambool Eagles in the next two matches, they need a miracle.
The Magpies are the most likely side pushing for a spot. But Baker fears the absence of veteran wing defence Emily Stephens this week could offset the gain of Wright.
Regardless of who takes the court, Baker said the Magpies had to get on a winning roll.
“I reckon we have to win three out of the four games and hope they lose two. We have to rely on them. That loss on Saturday made it really hard,” Baker said.
But the Magpies won’t give up, she said.
South Warrnambool coach Leah Kermeen said she and her side were far from comfortable despite sitting in fourth.
Kermeen said the Roosters were taking nothing for granted with a tough run home. Matches against third-placed Hamilton Kangaroos and second-placed North Warrnambool Eagles made 50-50 matches against Terang Mortlake and Camperdown crucial.
She identified the round 17 match against Camperdown as the one that mattered most but the round 16 game against eighth-placed Terang Mortlake would be tough. Kermeen, like many, said the Bloods would shape the five now that they have regained goal keeper Jess O’Connor. With matches against South Warrnambool and Camperdown, the Bloods loom as the season-changer.
“It’s a week at a time, you never know what will happen,” Kermeen said.
“It’s not a given that (fourth) is where we will end up. I’ve told the girls to not look ahead.”
The top of the ladder seems set. Koroit’s win over North Warrnambool Eagles last Saturday should see the Saints claim the minor premiership but the Eagles have to defeat the Kangaroos in round 17 to lock away second. The Kangaroos are safe in third but could get second if they keep winning and upset the Eagles.