CHARLTON kicked away from St Arnaud in the last quarter on Saturday to book its berth in the North Central Football League grand final.
Charlton booted five goals to two in the final term to defeat the Saints by 28 points in the second semi-final, 17.16 (118) to 13.12 (90).
The first three quarters were an arm-wrestle as neither side was able to break the game open.
The Saints led by one point at quarter-time and five at half-time, before the Navy Blues took a six-point lead into the last change.
“We know St Arnaud is a quality side that has great onballers, a good backline and good forward line, and we probably let them dictate for the first half,” Charlton coach Reece Collins said.
“But we were then able to roll into our game a bit more in the second half and sneak away from them in that last quarter.
“We started to get on top of them in the third quarter, and that laid the foundation for our last quarter.”
The Navy Blues’ five goals in the final quarter included the last three of the match through Rhys Thompson, Josh McKee and Collins as they were finally able to break the Saints.
“We were able to get a bit more use of the ball through the middle of the ground and open it up in that last quarter,” Collins said.
Thompson, McKee and Collins all kicked three goals for Charlton.
The best for the Navy Blues included Thompson, who played a mix of defence, forward and in the ruck, young defender Kieran Sait, experienced onballer Aaron Walkate, Joseph McLean and Tom Finlay.
“Overall it was a good team effort by the boys,” Collins said.
“We battled away for the four quarters and were able to get the rewards.”
Charlton’s grand final berth comes on the back of the Navy Blues missing the finals the past three years.
Since winning the 2009 premiership, the Navy Blues had finished fifth each of the past three years.
St Arnaud paid the price for a lack of discipline in the last quarter as the Saints’ frustrations spilled over
“Three of their goals in the last quarter came directly from free kicks and 50m penalties, which was disappointing and a poor end to the game,” St Arnaud coach James McNamee said.
“Overall, I don’t think the final margin of 28 points reflected how close the actual game was.
“There were a few instances during the game where we missed some shots at goal and didn’t put the scoreboard pressure on that we could have.
“As a result, they capitalised and were able to move the footy down the other end and kick goals.
“It seemed we’d have to work hard to kick a goal and there’s would come a lot easier.”
McNamee booted five goals for the Saints, including three after half-time.
The best for the Saints was centre half-back Sam Dyke.
“He was clean, used the footy well and stood up when we needed him to,” McNamee said.
“If it wasn’t for him down in defence, they would have kicked a few more goals.”
Dion Munkara (three goals), who was lively in the second half, and Lee Stewart, who battled hard in the centre, were also prominent for the Saints.
St Arnaud now turns its focus to this Saturday’s preliminary final against reigning premiers Wedderburn at Boort.