THERE was relief for one team and heartbreak for another in Saturday's HDFNL preliminary final.
Colbinabbin advanced to its eighth-consecutive A-grade final with a win over a bold and brave Elmore.
By game's end, only one goal separated the perennial powerhouse and a confident, young Bloods, who were playing in just their second finals series in seven years.
But a solitary goal was enough to earn the Grasshoppers another shot at White Hills, which defeated their long-standing rival by 13 goals in the previous week's second semi-final.
A gripping clash at Huntly was almost headed for extra time, after young Elmore defender Caitlin McLachlan grabbed a massive intercept with 30 seconds to play and sent the ball back into the Bloods attack end.
The siren sounded just as star young goaler Ruby Barkmeyer got the ball in her hands, denying the Bloods the chance to even the scores and continue on for a shot at a fairy tale grand final berth in coach Sue Borserio's second year at the helm.
For Colbinabbin, there was solace and ultimately jubilation at winning their way through to another grand final.
Grasshoppers coach Georgie Rodger paid the highest praise to Elmore for an outstanding effort, after the Bloods clawed their way back from an early seven-goal deficit.
"It was a real shootout - just incredible netball," she said.
"It's an absolute credit to the Elmore girls, they should be so proud of their season and what they pulled together on Saturday.
"They were really solid. They were about to put up a shot (at the end), it was honestly anyone's game.
"We were very, very lucky it ended when it did."
While many might not have given the Bloods a chance, after losing their minor round matches against Colbinabbin by 29 and 20 goals, Rodger said her side had prepared for a tough fight.
The first-year coach downplayed the margin in terms of its bearing on next week's grand final.
"One goal or 50 goals, a win's a win - we don't care how many (goals) it takes," she said.
"We know we are a good enough side to win it, we finished on top - we have the talent and depth, it's just about the execution and pushing through for four quarters.
"We'll clean the slate again and have another crack."
The Grasshoppers were best served by Martine Rodger at goal attack in the second half, goal shooter Jess Geary and centre Olivia McEvoy, while the Grasshoppers coach credited Elmore's Barkmeyer with 'opening up the game' for her side,
Bloods coach Borserio described the loss as 'bittersweet', but hoped the performance and margin had earned the club genuine respect.
"It is fabulous how far we have improved but for me (Saturday) was bitter and sweet, we had a three-goal lead with only minutes to play and needed to put the nail in the Colbo coffin," she said.
"I wanted the fairy tale and we deserved it, take nothing away from Colbo as they took the win from us, that's experience showing through.
"We have the heart and we now have the experience, and I hope after yesterday we have earned the respect."
The heartbreak for Elmore was compounded by preliminary final losses for the club's A-reserve and 17-and-under teams, but the Bloods will still have a chance at one premiership next week, with their 15-and-under team to do battle with Lockington-Bamawm United.
For Elmore, an incredible effort was spearheaded by their young shooting tandem of Barkmeyer and Steph Donnellon.
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