CAMPERDOWN has spent half the season at the bottom or second last on the Hampden league ladder. That it now sits fifth with two matches remaining is a triumph for self-confidence and belief.
Hard-working midfielder Damien Pemberton said as much after the Magpies enhanced their finals hopes with a 60-point win over Hamilton Kangaroos at Leura Oval on Saturday.
The 19.15 (129) to 10.9 (69) result lifted the Magpies into the five for the first time and dealt seventh-placed Hamilton Kangaroos’ finals aspirations a fatal blow.
Pemberton, who knocked up getting possessions in a match-winning performance, said the Magpies’ season was almost a write-off after going winless in the opening five weeks.
“When we started off losing the games our heads were down,” he said.
“When we realised we could still make it, everyone’s really worked hard and now that we are in form we have the confidence and self-belief.”
The 25-year-old believes the Magpies have the momentum to play finals.
“I think we are (ready),” he said.
But he conceded the Magpies had to push for more improvement to close the gap on ladder-leader Warrnambool and second-placed Koroit.
Saturday’s win in a high-stakes match meant a lot.
“It’s going to be a massive confidence boost,” Pemberton said.
“We are starting to enjoy what we are doing. Now we are winning we are enjoying working hard and it’s why we are starting to play some good footy.”
Pemberton said a number of players, both young and older, had stepped up after the rocky start to the season. One of the young ones has been his 20-year-old brother Matt, who was playing reserves at the start of the year.
Pemberton said he had “got in his ear” about increasing his commitment to the game and working harder on the training track. After all, playing alongside his sibling was the main reason he joined the Magpies last year after playing all but one year of his career at Lismore-Derrinallum.
He has taken a big step forward this year, moving from half-back to the midfield in the absence of stars Sam Chapman and Khan Beckett, who left the Magpies this season.
On Saturday Pemberton and Luke Clarke were prolific in the midfield, setting up the Magpies’ match-winning first-half. The Magpies dominated the Kangaroos with 4.5 to 1.1 in the opening term as the Kangaroos pushed two players behind the ball. But Camperdown’s pressure meant the Kangaroos were unable to get their slingshot run from defence.
The Kangaroos persevered with the tactic until Matt Pemberton kicked a goal, the Magpies’ second of the second term and sixth of the match to lead by 28 points.
The switch to a conventional six-man defence did little for the Kangaroos as the Magpies kicked six goals to one for the rest of the term, piling on 8.2 to 2.1 in the quarter to kill the contest.
Magpies’ ruckman Marcus Powling’s goal after the half-term siren following two 50-metre penalties rubbed salt into the Kangaroos’ wounds as they led by 58 points.
The Magpies’ younger players — defender Billy Arnold, half-forwards Cam Spence (two goals), Liam Darcy and Matthew Field (two goals) — were impressive in the second half despite the Kangaroos getting plenty of drive from the inspirational Brad Thomas and captain Kane Uebergang. North Ballarat Rebel Eric Guthrie showed plenty of dash for the Kangaroos, while ex-Magpie Hugh Douglas kicked five goals, all in the second half, with more opportunities.