IT took Camperdown until the 17-minute mark of the second quarter to kick its first goal on Saturday.
But its next two came in quick succession and from there South Warrnambool, despite all its strong work early, appeared long odds to hold on for an underdog win.
The Magpies pulled away in the second half for a 9.20 (74) to 7.9 (51) triumph at Friendly Societies’ Park.
It wasn’t pretty, as the inaccurate scoreboard suggests, but the gritty performance kept the Magpies’ finals chances alive.
Camperdown coach Dan Casey said the Pies showed hunger to get back into the contest after conceding the first three goals of the game.
Casey said his fifth-placed side, which faces a final-round showdown with fourth-placed Terang Mortlake, knew how important Saturday’s game was to its finals dream.
“We knew if we wanted to play finals that we have to win the last two anyway,” he said after hearing the Bloods knocked off second-placed Koroit.
“It is good for our young group to have a bone to chase and they just need to know that we have to go out and beat Terang.
“It’s as simple as that.”
Camperdown was under fire early against South Warrnambool, which used half-back Olle Lee and hard nut onballer Sam Thompson for inspiration, and looked anything but a top-five side.
The Roosters’ pressure was immense and they played on at all costs in a bid to keep the Pies guessing.
They skipped to a 19-point lead on the back of goals to Sam Thomas, Sam Thompson and veteran Robbie Gregg, whose clever snap excited the club’s large premiership reunion crowd.
A goal square goal, which resulted in teenage Rooster Paddy Anderson injuring his lower leg, gave them a 25-point lead early in the second term.
Camperdown rued 50-metre penalties and looked flustered before it slowly started to shift momentum its way.
It broke through for its first goal at the 17-minute mark and had three on the board in quick time, including a classy Cam Spence snap.
Camperdown went into half-time nine points in arrears but loomed large.
South Warrnambool kicked one behind for the third term as a Magpie trio — midfielder Luke Clarke, defender Jacob Mahony and the creative Spence — stood up. Two goals from Matthew Pemberton and Clarke bookended five straight Pie behinds to start the final term.
In the end, Camperdown’s inaccuracy flattered South Warrnambool, which faltered after an impressive start.
Casey, who had Rooster tall Kym Eagleson for company, was the Pies’ main culprit in front of goals.
“It could have been 2.8 and three out on the full,” he said of his kicking.
“It was just woeful, just one of those days. I had been kicking pretty good.”
South Warrnambool coach Matthew Monk lamented the Roosters’ second half.
“It was weird because you could almost tell at half-time,” he said of their fadeout.
“Sometimes you can just sense it as a coach that ‘that’s our show for today, show’s over folks’ and that’s what happened.
“I thought we were OK in the last, we battled. But at that stage of the game you can’t be battling, you have to be trying to win the game.
“We brought it undone in the third quarter.
“Credit to them, they obviously assessed it at half-time and realised if they want to play finals footy that it had to be now or never and we just couldn’t match that urgency.”