FLAG contenders Koroit and Camperdown discovered physicality can only take you so far during their Hampden league match-of-the-round.
The Magpies posted their sixth win — and condemned Koroit to its third loss — with a 33-point defeat of the Saints, 13.14 (92) to 9.5 (59), at Victoria Park.
But such a result seemed unlikely when an early-afternoon downpour turned the High Street oval into a mudbath.
The heavy conditions favoured the Saints, who fielded a bigger and stronger team than the visiting ladder-leader. And for the first two quarters their superiority at the contested football paid dividends.
But the longer the match went, the more prominent Camperdown’s run became and a seven-goals-to-two final term sealed a convincing win.
Their second-half display, spearheaded by Matt Sinnott and Sam Chapman — clearly the two best players on the ground — will lift the feeling at Leura Oval that season 2012 could be one to remember.
Camperdown coach Bernard Moloney said he was pleased his side had six wins after playing every rival once.
He said the Magpies had to adjust the way they set up at stoppages and marking contests to overcome the Saints in the second half.
“I think we started to get our hands on the footy first,” he said.
“Koroit were good early at getting first possession, even reading our ruckmen. We were chasing tails.
“The big adjustment was we had to spread our blokes around the contest so we could either spread ourselves or put pressure on them if they won it.
“We adjusted where our blokes at the stoppages stood, went a bit wider and spread the contests from there.” Camperdown did it easily in the end, but it wasn’t always that way.
Koroit, through Ben Walsh, Brett Harrington, Ben Dobson and Joe McLaren, was on top through the middle early and Sam Dobson was marking almost every kick in his direction. The Saints had the cleaner skills, were unafraid to chip the football around and were efficient entering the forward 50.
Camperdown was blazing away when in possession and was horribly inaccurate — 2.7 on the scoreboard said as much.
But there were positives: the Magpies had started to get their hands on the football in the second term and were growing in confidence.
They were within a goal five minutes into the third through Luke Molan and the excellent Luke Clarke, before the sides traded goals to hit three-quarter-time level.
The match looked set to be a thriller but Camperdown kicked 5.3 to 0.1 in the final 15 minutes as the conditions took their toll on Koroit.
Clarke finished with four goals, including the sealer, a left-foot snap which blew the margin out to 20 points.
Camperdown runners Fraser Lucas, Mitch Danahay and Jesse Hanegraaf kicked two each, as did Nick Bateman. Hayden Mitchell also had a telling impact in the second half.
Dobson was the Saints’ leading scorer with four majors, but Magpies full-back Jahd Anderson could hold his head high after quarter-time.
“They went in with an extra tall and we went in with an extra small,” Moloney said.
“It might’ve been the last 15 minutes but it mattered for us today. We have to be careful next time we play them, it might be a dry day.”
Koroit coach Chris McLaren said the Saints had too few contributors after half-time.
He said his side was lucky to lose by only 33 points.
“The game opened up, they carved us up late, especially in the last quarter, after the 10-minute mark,” he said.
“Whether that was a mindset thing where the game was gone when they were two or three (goals) up, or whether we stopped and their fitness base compared to ours (was better), I’m not sure.
“But they certainly carved us up late in the last quarter. I reckon we’d be pretty close to Camperdown but not today. They were arguably six, seven, eight (goals) better than us today, (but) they didn’t kick straight.”