BAROOGA issued a warning to the rest of the Murray league on Saturday, claiming an impressive five-point win over Finley to keep its season alive.
The Hawks booked an elimination final showdown with Mulwala after sinking the competition heavyweight Cats for the second time this year.
The Hawks had to win to play finals.
“We’ve always known our best is good enough,” Barooga coach Leigh Ramsdale said.
“We’ve had a couple of slip-ups along the way this year, which ended up putting us under the pump and we needed to beat one of the top sides to get into the finals.
“It was the second time we’ve beaten them and they haven’t lost too many, so it shows we are thereabouts.”
The Lions, Echuca United and Deniliquin Rams also booked a spot in September with final round victories.
Nathalia, which entered the round in third spot, fell out of the top six in stunning fashion — and didn’t even have to lose to do so.
The Purples drew with minor premier Rumbalara, but in heartbreaking fashion were tossed out of the finals.
Barooga led at every change, setting up its win over Finley with a dynamic second term.
They led by 32 points at half-time.
“We probably should have put it to bed early in the third,” Ramsdale said.
“But as good sides do, Finley got themselves back in the game.”
In a huge boost ahead of this week’s knockout final, the Hawks should welcome back VFL player Josh Helliwell from a foot injury.
Echuca United avoided an early scare to sink Numurkah as expected by 43 points.
The Eagles were down by 13 points at quarter-time before taking control.
Mulwala had similar troubles against Tongala but eventually surged to a 34-point win at Lonsdale Reserve.
Deniliquin hammered Moama by 80 points.
Congupna thumped Cobram by 83, while a thrilling final-quarter comeback from 23 points down by Nathalia wasn’t quite enough at Shepparton’s Mercury Sports Complex as they fell one point short of the finals.