BIRCHIP-Watchem clinched the last spot in the North Central Football League finals after a dramatic end to the home and away season on Saturday.
The Bulls took on Boort, with the equation simple - the winner would play finals, while it would be season over for the loser.
However, the game ended in a 14.14 (98) apiece draw, leaving both sides on 30 premiership points.
But it was the Bulls’ superior percentage of 89.0 to Boort’s 85.7 that ensured they finished fourth, while the Magpies were consigned to fifth.
Birchip-Watchem had led by 24 points at three quarter-time, before the tense final term unfolded in which the Magpies kicked 5.3 to the Bulls’ 1.3 to tie up the scores in what was the NCFL’s first draw of the season.
Sam O’Loughlin, Jarrod Tyler (six goals), Albert Simpson and Daniel Castellano (three goals) were the best for the Bulls, whose finals berth came a year after they claimed the wooden spoon.
Michael Henningsen, Cameron Milward, Sam Dehne and Andrew Welsh led the better players for the Magpies, who will be looked back on in 2014 as one of country Victoria’s most unluckiest teams to miss finals in such circumstances.
• An after-the-siren goal to Charlton forward Joe McGrath inflicted Wedderburn’s second loss of the season.
In a preview of the second semi-final, the Navy Blues in front of a reunion crowd came from 21 points down at three quarter-time to win 10.14 (74) to 11.7 (73).
McGrath’s match-winning goal was one of three he kicked for the game for the Navy Blues, whose standouts included Ben Walklate, Rhys Thompson, Travis Baird, Matthew Willox and Kieran Sait.
Brady Herdman, Rohan McHugh and Robert Tonkin played well for the minor premier Redbacks, while full-forward Sam Barnes kicked three goals to end the home and away season with 94.
• Donald ended the season winless after going down to Wycheproof-Narraport by 32 points.
The Royals led by two points at three quarter-time, but the straight-shooting Demons piled on seven goals to one in the final term to win 15.3 (93) to 9.7 (61).
George Turner, Sam Driscoll and Declan Lourey and Ben Brennan played well for the Demons.
The consistent Glenn Wyatt, Jack Onley (three goals), Jarred Newell and James Heslop were good contributors for the Royals.