REIGNING premier Navarre has shrugged off its Maryborough-Castlemaine District Football League qualifying final hoodoo with an 18-point win over Natte Bealiba on Saturday.
In what was their smallest winning margin so far this season, the Grasshoppers downed the Swans 13.11 (89) to 11.5 (71) at Princes Park to move a step closer to another grand final.
While the Grasshoppers have played in the past three grand finals since joining the MCDFL, they had earlier lost the qualifying final each time.
They increased their advantage at each of the first three breaks on Saturday, leading by 16 points at quarter-time, 25 at half-time and 31 at three quarter-time, before the Swans kicked three goals to one in the final term.
Louis Hannett, Ashley Driscoll (three goals), Matthew Newton and Ben Scott (four goals) led the better players for the Grasshoppers.
The win was the Grasshoppers’ 20th in a row since they lost their qualifying final to Newstead by 24 points last year.
The best for the Swans - whose score of 71 was the equal highest against the Grasshoppers this season - included Stephen Ross (three goals), Nathan Ross, Thomas Douglas and Ryan Weir (four goals).
• After winning its previous 15 games, Lexton came unstuck against Carisbrook in their qualifying final at Hedges Oval.
The Redbacks kicked three goals to two in the final term after the Tigers had led by one point at three quarter-time to win a tight contest 10.9 (69) to 9.7 (61) to advance to what will be their fourth preliminary final in a row.
The biggest margin that separated the two sides at any of the breaks was the nine points Carisbrook led by at half-time.
In what was a game where goals were at a premium, Cole Roscholler (four) and Liam Cunningham (three) combined for seven for the Redbacks, whose best players were Jackson Bowen, Jeremy McInnes, Andrew Lovett and Hayden Barby.
In Lexton’s first loss since round one - and third-consecutive defeat in a qualifying final - the Tigers were best served by James Templeton, Nicholas Spolding, Damon Aspland and Bryce Karslake, while they suffered a blow with a knee injury to midfielder Daniel Chester.
• On Sunday, Royal Park made a winning return to the finals, defeating Campbells Creek by 37 points in their elimination final at Hedges Oval.
Bushy won 12.14 (86) to 6.13 (49) on the back of a flying start.
Bushy kicked almost half its score in the opening term when it led 6.4 to 2.3 at quarter-time.
Jay Anderson and Jacob Cahill kicked three goals each and were named the best for Royal Park in its first final since 2006.
Campbells Creek - playing its first final since 1999 - was best served by Ross Slater and James Boag.
Adam Pollock kicked four of the Creekers’ six goals.
Royal Park meets Lexton in a semi-final next Saturday.
• In Sunday’s other elimination final, Newstead kicked eight goals to four after half-time to defeat Talbot by 22 points, 15.16 (106) to 13.6 (84), at Princes Park.
Earlier, the Hawks had led by 10 points at half-time as an upset loomed, but the Steaders responded to set up a semi-final next week with Natte Bealiba.
Captain Mark Ramsey kicked five goals for the Steaders, whose best were Adam Hunter, Michael Dalrymple and Tom Ruggles.
Matthew Smith, Jorde Bux (three goals) and Bradley Fleming played well for the Hawks.