STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm will try on Saturday night for the third time to win its way into its first Bendigo Football League grand final.
The Storm will take on Eaglehawk in the preliminary final at the QEO.
Strathfieldsaye last year fell one week short of playing in the grand final when it lost the preliminary final to Gisborne.
And the Storm last week squandered the chance to move directly into the grand final when it blew a commanding second semi-final lead against Golden Square.
Which poses one of the questions of intrigue ahead of Saturday night – how do the Storm respond to the bitter disappointment of last week?
The Storm led Golden Square by 34 points at half-time last Sunday, at which stage they looked headed for a week off before the grand final.
But despite the efforts of Shaun Everington, Matthew Ladson, Jono Gawthrop and Tom Dowd, they faded dismally in the second half, conceding 10 goals to four to lose by eight points.
The game included Golden Square kicking 5.6 to 2.3 in the final term in what was the fourth time in their past five games the Storm had been outscored in the last quarter.
The Storm must now confront an Eaglehawk side that regrouped from a four-point qualifying final loss to Golden Square to belt Gisborne by 64 points in last week’s first semi-final.
The Hawks grew in confidence the longer last week’s game wore on, led by superb performances from the in-form Darcy Richards, Brodie Collins, full-forward Matt Gretgrix (six goals), Eamon Costello and Tyler Miles.
Eaglehawk – playing in its third preliminary final in the past four years – is 0-2 against Strathfieldsaye this year, losing its two home and away clashes by 59 and 32 points.
But as last week’s second semi-final showed when Golden Square turned around two home and away losses against Strathfieldsaye, finals are a whole new ball game.