CAMPERDOWN is one win away from a fairytale finish.
The Magpies booked their Hampden league grand final ticket with a stunning 9.10 (64) to 6.8 (44) second semi-final victory over four-time reigning premier Koroit on Saturday.
Fourth-quarter heroics from a team which prides itself on belief and heart propelled Camperdown into the decider for the first time since 2006.
The Pies were six points down at the final change but booted four unanswered goals to condemn the Saints to back-to-back second semi-final defeats at Portland’s Hanlon Park.
An emotional coach Phil Carse, who arrived at the club from Queensland four years ago, said he was “over the moon”.
“I don’t think many people thought we’d make the five, so it’s been terrific,” he said of the Magpies’ rise from sixth in 2017 to grand finalist 12 months later.
“I think it is the fact no one thought we’d get there and I think everyone has expected us to fall over at some stage.
“I guess the pressure then is on the boys – you can go back into your shell and let that be an excuse but to their credit they’ve dug deep every game this year.
“We had a bit of a flat spot mid-year but other than that we’ve found a way to grind our way through games.
“The boys have got so much heart and that’s why I get so emotional about it.”
That heart was on display after quarter-time.
Camperdown conceded four first-term goals to be 16 points down at the first break before restricting Koroit to two goals thereafter.
“I don’t know the last time we’ve beaten Koroit, we haven’t got near them in my four years to be honest,” Carse said.
“Some of the young guys like Riley Arnold and Lachie Bone stepped up to the plate when we needed them and that probably exemplifies what we’ve stood for this year, developing those young guys and promoting them.”
For Koroit coach Chris McLaren it was a sense of deja vu.
The Saints fell to Port Fairy in the 2017 second semi-final after kicking the first four goals of the match before they were restricted to three in the next three quarters.
McLaren said he was disappointed but was confident they could re-group for the preliminary final as they did last season.
“Camperdown were a little bit better in all the little things – they were a little bit cleaner, at times were a bit more hungry and desperate,” he said.
Key defender Todd McLean tried his to utmost to get thre Saints across the line, taking countless marks in defence in the fourth term.
“When you only have one clear winner on the ground, which was Todd, out of 21 you’re not going to win many games,” McLaren conceded.