MINOR premier Rand-Walbundrie tuned up for its most important match in five years by disposing of Jindera by 22 points at Rand on Saturday.
In a workman-like performance, the Tigers gained confidence ahead of their second semi-final encounter against Henty in a fortnight with a victory over the Bulldogs.
It will be the Tigers’ first finals appearance since 2009 with the merged identity looking to snap a premiership drought stretching back to 1991.
The Bulldogs — who could have pinched an unlikely finals berth with victory and if other results went their way — threw everything at the Tigers and held a slender four-point lead at the final change.
But the Tigers rallied in the final quarter when challenged through the efforts of Aaron and Justin Gordon and Brian Lieschke to seal a 14.13 (97) to 12.3 (75) triumph.
Coach Daniel Athanitis said the hard-fought win provided the perfect hit-out before finals.
“To win against Osb-orne last week and now Jindera gives us a perfect preparation leading into finals,” Athanitis said.
“Jindera had a fair bit to play for and it was pleasing how we responded when the match was up for grabs in the final quarter.”
The third quarter was abandoned with seven minutes remaining after Tiger Dean Gorman and a Jindera opponent were involved in a sickening head clash.
Both players left the ground assisted by trainers before the match resumed.
North Albury recruit Matt McDonald won the Bulldogs’ best and fairest on Saturday night, with Isaac Pound runner-up.