Camperdown and Port Fairy set to battle for maiden Hampden flag

CLOSE CONTEST: Emma Wright and Carley Thomas jostle for position in the qualifying final. Picture: Vicky Hughson

CLOSE CONTEST: Emma Wright and Carley Thomas jostle for position in the qualifying final. Picture: Vicky Hughson

IT is fitting that the Hampden open grade grand final has come down to this – Camperdown versus Port Fairy.

The top two sides of the home and away season. Well-matched combatants.

Two coaches in their first year in charge at their respective clubs.

Two teams chasing their club’s first top-grade premiership.

Camperdown has won each encounter between the sides this season, but only by one, three and five goals. And coach Peter Finch knows those wins will count for little when it comes to crunch time in the decider.

“Just because we’ve won the three games through the year doesn’t mean that’s the path it’s going to follow again,” he said.

“We know it’s going to be a tough game.

“Both teams have probably been up by 10 goals (in the earlier matches). We’ve both been up at different stages and both bounced back.”

The Magpies, who were runners-up last year, have injected more youth into the team, with the likes of Gabby Beaver, Caitlin Hall, Grace Lucas and Olivia Hickey playing a role at various stages.

“I brought those young girls in in the last six-to-eight weeks of the season, Tracey (Baker) was missing a couple of games, Jaymie (Finch) was missing a couple of games,” Finch said.

“They stood up pretty well under the pressure.

“There’s a few girls out of the under 17s grand final a couple of years ago. They’ve been to a grand final and won a grand final in the under 17s.”

Port Fairy, likewise, has a healthy mix of youth and experience in its line-up.

Coach Megan Titmus said the Seagulls had maintained a week-by-week focus, but in the second half of the season – when they’d played every team once and the ladder positions started to settle – it became apparent they were well in the hunt for the flag.

“There’s a bit of a buzz around the club – it’s been a while since we’ve had an open grade (team) in the grand final,” she said.

“There’s a bit of experience in the side … (and) everyone is just great friends off the court. There is good camaraderie between them all.”

The teams have had different paths through finals – Camperdown earning byes in weeks one and three – but Titmus said it was good for the Seagulls to have played tough opponents each week in the lead-up to the grand final.

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