LAVINGTON has booked an unlikely berth in the Ovens and Murray Football League under-18 grand final.
It claimed the scalp of the premier team of the past two seasons, Wangaratta, in a preliminary final at Norm Minns Oval on Sunday.
The Panthers were seemingly dead and buried as a finals contender, with just one win from the first six rounds.
But, a third successive finals victory against the Magpies has them in the grand final against Albury for the first time since winning the premiership in 2009.
Lavington came from 34 points down in the second quarter to win by 16 points.
The Panthers kicked the final goal of the first half before taking control after the long break.
The spark came from Clint Gardiner and Luke McLellan and the Panthers also had targets in attack in Kevin McDonald and Aaron Jory, who finished with five goals between them.
McDonald plucked some strong marks up forward and kicked goals at crucial stages as the Panthers kicked six goals to nil in the third term to hit the front by eight points at the last change.
The Panthers successfully shutdown the Magpies mid-field as Mitchell Lawrence, Connor Meredith and Connor Bahr also played their part in the fightback.
Versatile ruckman-forward Jacob Cincurak again showed he could be a wildcard in the grand final with some telling touches.
Cincurak has missed the bulk of the season due to basketball commitments.
The Magpies were unable to stem the flow in the second half despite efforts of forward Heath Nash, who booted three goals, Matthew Hedin, Izack Ralph and Will Reilly.
The Panthers are coached by club senior games record-holder and dual premiership player Kerry Bahr.
Albury beat the Magpies in the second semi-final by 101 points to advance to the grand final.
The Tigers haven’t won an under-18 premiership since the inaugural season of the competition in 1973.
They stormed home in the final quarter of last year’s grand final to lose to Wangaratta by three points.