LOCKINGTON-Bamawm United survived a gallant challenge from Huntly on Saturday to advance to another Heathcote District Football League grand final.
The Cats won Saturday’s second semi-final by 18 points, 14.10 (94) to 11.10 (76), at Heathcote to move into their fourth-straight grand final.
In what was an entertaining game of momentum swings, the Cats kicked 4.2 to 2.3 in the last term after the Hawks had charged back into the match during the third quarter.
Lively forward Jarrod Bacon was among the stars for the Cats. The young gun kicked three of his four goals in the last quarter to kill off the Hawks.
Earlier, the Cats gained the upper hand during what proved to be a match-winning second quarter as their finals experience took over.
Coming off a 21-day break, the Cats trailed what had been a more hungry Huntly by six points at quarter-time.
Huntly forward Chris Gleeson provided the Cats with a major headache in the first term, kicking three goals, while midfielder Ryan Semmel set the Hawks alight in the centre square.
However, after soaking up the Hawks’ pressure in the first quarter, the reigning premiers lifted in the second term to break the game open with a dominant 30 minutes.
The Cats denied the Hawks possession and they used the ball well going forward, with Lachlan Collins the major beneficiary.
The Cats kicked 6.2 in the second term, including three goals to Collins, while the Hawks were restricted to just three behinds.
On the back of their second-term blitz, the Cats led by 29 points at half-time, 9.4 to 4.5, and what had been a game that promised plenty early was shaping as a blowout.
But the Hawks had other ideas and willed their way back into the contest in the third quarter.
The Hawks added five goals to one in the third term, including a beauty from 50m from Semmel that brought Huntly back within seven points late in the quarter.
The Hawks – chasing their first berth in a HDFL grand final – went into the last term trailing 9.7 to 10.8, but with all the momentum.
However, the Cats were quick to get the game back on their terms with two early last-quarter goals to Bacon in the first five minutes to lead by 19 points.
The Hawks refused to wilt, and when Braidy Dickens kicked the goal of the day off his left foot from 35m on the boundary they were back within 12 points at the 12-minute mark.
But that would be as close as the Hawks got as Bacon answered again, before Adrian Dohnt iced the game at the 22-minute mark when he goaled in the pocket.
“There was no stage of the game where I thought we had the job done,” Cats coach Kahl Oliver said.
“To be five goals up at half-time was pleasing, but we knew they’d come again, and they did.
“I was really happy with the way we were able to kick again in that last quarter and hold on.”
Bacon was the Cats’ best player, while others who stood out included Paul Hudson in the centre, ruckman Liam Main, hard-running midfielder Matt Bongiovanni, captain Nathan O’Brien across half-back and Dohnt, whose delivery with his left foot was again lethal.
With Saturday’s win, the Cats have earned the right to play for their third-straight premiership on September 14 at Elmore.
After losing the 2010 grand final, the Cats have beaten Heathcote and North Bendigo in the past two grand finals.
“We’ll work hard on the track over the next two weeks to make sure we’re right to go against whoever we come up against,” Oliver said.
Huntly coach Stacy Fiske said the Hawks paid the price for their poor second term.
“If you lapse against a good side like LBU the way we did in that second quarter, it makes it nearly impossible to get back,” Fiske said.
“In saying that, the group did all they could after half-time to get back into the game.
“We got it back to a goal at three quarter-time, but it was tough to go that next step after coming from so far back.”
Fiske played a super leader’s game highlighted by his fierce attack on the ball from the first siren to the last.
Semmel, full-back Alex Demeo, who held Oliver to one goal, onballer Cory Lobb, Gleeson, who finished with five goals, and wingman Matt Klein-Breteler were other better players for the Hawks.
Klein-Breteler was forced from the ground in the final term with an ankle injury.
● Match statistics:
Centre clearances: LBU 12; Huntly 17.
Inside 50s: LBU 47; Huntly 50.
Stoppages: LBU 32; Huntly 22.