Camberwell Defeat Greensborough 3-2 in Classic Arm-Wrestle at Matlock

Goals: Eden Davis, Andy Philpott, Nathan Copey

Scratching our heads, Camberwell's selection staff were stretched to their limits last week. With Easter and ANZAC Day falling on consecutive weekends, many of our players had decided to take some time off and head away. Coupled with a few injuries, our availability spreadsheet was looking bleak. It's an odd time of the year. While we're only three rounds into the season proper, we're almost half way through our 2019 PL campaign, from our first preseason session to our last game of the year. Players are away, public holidays are all over the place and various hiccups litter our standard program.

It was a great tournament had lots of fun but was a disappointing end loosing to QLD in the semi final 4-5
— Josh Henderson, Victorian U18 & Premier League Squad Member

Thankfully for our selection headaches, our under 18 squad members had returned from state duties, providing some extra depth for a week in which we needed it most. Unfortunately for our boys however, 2 early goals to NSW State proved too much in the bronze medal match, leaving us to settle for fourth placed.

A pretty standard, uninterrupted Tuesday night session at Matlock had everyone in pretty good shape. Solid stick and ball work on the field followed up by a circuit session with Richie. Meanwhile, Derek and myself sorted through our cupboard, better organising balls, spare kit, bibs, cones, before loading it all into the car ahead of our Thursday training session on the road.

Koonung is not a venue the men's premier league side gets to see very often. Having spent many recesses/lunchtimes, school sport lessons and hockey games of my own on the Peter Wright Field, I am well versed in the sandy, carpeted concrete slab that it was. In 2019, the situation has improved, slightly, but the fresh layer of sand was proving slippery, and the lack of a proper shock-pad meant that some sore knees were forecast for Friday morning. Despite the public holiday, we still had a pretty decent turnout, with the majority of both our MPL and MPLR turning up to train. While the surface at Koonung isn’t quite premier league standard, the lights are a goalkeeper’s dream, putting even our new Matlock ones to shame. A quick meeting in the portable change rooms and our prep for Burra was approaching its end.

Short corner practice on sandy Koonung

Short corner practice on sandy Koonung

Team meeting post training on the road

Team meeting post training on the road

Down at Matlock on Saturday afternoon, the final pieces were coming together. Thank you to John Unkles stepping up to help out with our ball kids, and to Rich Harris in the tech box to help officiate. As Rich says, this idea of giving back is essential to ensuring our entire operation runs successfully. Roster confirmed on Altius, hydration at the ready and inevitable last minute requests for socks satisfied, we were finally ready to go.

Both Camberwell and Burra began to put the pressure on early, knowing how important an early goal could be in an effort to break open the game. Unlike last week, all cylinders were firing from the first whistle. We were connecting well, and finding the right balls between our lines. Nine minutes in, streaming down a lovely angle into the top of the D, Eden Davis executed perfectly, sending a ball flying past the Burra Keeper into the bottom left. Both his first quarter and goal for the season in Camberwell colours, welcome back Eden! Burra weren't about to lie down though, and only two minutes later responded through Brendan Ford, levelling the scores at 1-1. Just as had just happened to us however, we exploited the opposition post-goal vulnerability very well, receiving a stroke after Jimmy went down on the baseline in what would have been a sure goal. Scruff stepped up and calmly slotted the ball in. Three goals in the space of 4 minutes, with us on the positive end, 2-1 our way at the first break.

It only took Burra three minutes into the second half to equalise through a field goal from Josh Pollard, but after the initial flurry of activity in the first 20 minutes, a traditional Camberwell v Burra arm wrestle began, both teams with some nice usage of the ball, but unable to take any real chances away. Credit to our backline, a very different look this week however doing a great job of keeping the Burra attack at bay.

The third quarter progressed much the same and remained scoreless, but was not by any means uneventful. The chirp factor was stepping up a little as these two old rivals continued battle, but despite the increase in temperature, only one green card was shown, and not to us.

With the fourth quarter in play, it definitely felt like the next goal would probably win the game. Still two all, our new look team was keeping it together well, and starting to take the ascendency. More circle entries, more time spent in our attacking half, we were beginning to see reward for a lot of hard work. As the minutes counted down it started to look like this might be a draw, but a 67th minute goal from Nathan Copey gave us the lead we were so desperately looking for. Playing burra though, there's no opportunity to switch off. Even with a minute on the clock, complacency is not an option, many of us more than aware of Burra's recent ability to claw points back in the dying few seconds of a game. But there would be no last second goal today, a well earned 3-2 victory to keep us two points clear at the top of the table ahead of Doncaster and Southern.

Be sure to make it down to training on Thursday night as David Wansbrough interviews Hockey Victoria Chariman and ex Camberwell premiership player Rob Dalton. The bar and bbq will be running, and many familiar faces will be around for a chat. After that, if you're feeling adventurous trek down to Kingston Heath Reserve in Moorabbin on Saturday afternoon, where we take on Southern United at 2PM in a grand final rematch.

Hamish Prior