MDFL - Tatyoon has booked a spot in the Mininera and District Football League grand final for the eighth consecutive time after upsetting an undefeated Penshurst outfit in the second semi final at Hawkesdale on Saturday.
The thrilling three point win, 15.10 (100) to 15.7 (97), ended the Bombers' 18-match winning streak and proved the reigning MDFL premier is still the team to beat.
Tatyoon coach Julian Sambell said his team was beginning to fire at the right time of the season.
"A lot of hard work goes in throughout the year so it is nice to have a bit of reward," he said.
"Last week's match against Moyston/Willaura gave us plenty of confidence and things seem to be starting to click, we are playing the style of footy we want to play.
"(Before the game) I just said that if we do the things that work for us then we would have a good chance."
Tatyoon took its coach's advice and quickly took control in the opening quarter.
Pat Tucker, Sean McDougall and Aaron Bird picked up where they left off last week and helped give the Hawks seven scoring shots to just three, opening up a nine point advantage at the first change.
Tatyoon continued its push in the second term, with Arthur Armstrong and Damian Cameron combining well in the ruck.
The Hawks were brimming with confidence by halftime, holding a 23-point buffer.
"Like in last week's game we were pretty composed when we had the ball," Sambell said.
"We made some good decisions and didn't just bomb it long, we pin-pointed targets and tried to keep possession of the ball for as long as possible."
The third term saw Penshurst shrug off a sluggish start to kick its way back into the match.
Forwards Grant Ewing (five goals), Scott Richards (three) and Troy McCormack (three) led the way and the seven goal to four quarter had Sambell slightly concerned.
"There was always an element of doubt, especially with the momentum that they had," he said.
"Like any team that gets that type of momentum going, Penshurst were hard to stop, so I think three quarter time came at a good time for us. It gave us a chance to reassess and to take a deep breath going into the last."
With only two points separating the teams going into the final quarter, the intensity was sky high.
The Hawks managed to get out to a nine-point lead with under 10 minutes remaining, however the Bombers dug deep and managed to get their noses in front for several minutes in the closing stages.
"They kicked the goal to hit the front, then we managed to get the lead back, it was a scrappy last quarter," Sambell said.
"They then had a shot on goal with about two minutes to go but missed and we managed to hang on for the win."
Powerful forward duo Ross Panther and Aidan Bell booted four goals between them to help Tatyoon get across the line.
Sambell was terrific in defence and was named in the best.
The coach praised the efforts of Armstrong and said the young ruckman had a bright future ahead of him.
"He is only 16 and played four games earlier this year before getting injured. He came back last week and had a good game then obviously had a really good match on the weekend, so he is growing in confidence every week," he said.
"A game like that one is won and lost in the midfield. I reckon for two and a half quarters we were winning out of the centre then in the third quarter they got on top and this is why the momentum swung their way.
"Coming off a game at Alexandra Oval it was a tough ask for the onballers and by the time the last few minutes rolled around there was a few of us running up and down on the one spot."
Sambell said it was the first time all season that Tatyoon had survived a match injury-free.
He said despite having next weekend off, training would be kept as normal as possible, with the team likely to travel to Lake Bolac on Saturday to watch the preliminary final.
"It will be business as usual," he said.
"We won't be going and doing anything silly we will just have the weekend off, have our normal training and then front up in a fortnight's time and have a crack at whoever we are playing."
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The Hawks won't be facing Moyston/Willaura in the decider after the Pumas were bundled out of the finals race by Hawkesdale/Macarthur by 46 points on Sunday at Caramut.
Coach Daniel Guinane said consecutive finals losses had left everyone at the club disillusioned.
"Definitely the expectation from the boys was to go a bit further and not go out in straight sets, so it is very disappointing," he said.
The Pumas matched it with the Eagles early in the do-or-die final, before a lapse in the second quarter saw them trail by 35 points at halftime.
"Our tackling was impressive in the first quarter," Guinane said.
"I think we had 20-odd tackles there and that pressure around the footy really allowed us to stay with them for that term.
"The boys then seemed to switch off a bit in the second quarter and couldn't match the intensity and that allowed them to shoot away to a six goal lead by halftime, but to the boys' credit we fought back and got within a couple of goals. It was always going to be tough to get back into it though."
Moyston/Willaura outscored its opponent in the third term, piling on five goals to two, however the Eagles then bagged five majors of their own in the last term while holding the Pumas goalless.
Ruckman Josh Bywater shone in his duel with Lachie Reichman, while Lynden Brewis, William Bell and Jacob Johnson battled all match.
Guinane said Pumas captain Matt Peel was outstanding and worked hard through the midfield, while there were plenty of contributors in the backline.
"Nathan Stapleton, Josh Day and James Davis all battled hard and did their jobs well on the relevant forwards which was good," he said.
Despite accumulating injuries to key players throughout the year including Aaron Pianta (broken arm), Trent Fiscalini (knee), Brad Karslake (ankle) and Phil Brady (concussion), Guinane doesn't believe that was the reason behind a sluggish finals' campaign.
"Nah definitely not injury, it probably just comes down to the inexperience of our younger ones. It was a completely different side to last year," he said.