KIEWA-Sandy Creek secured the Tallangatta and District league’s double chance with a thrilling one-point win over Rutherglen at Rutherglen on Saturday.
In a frenetic finish, the Hawks did just enough to hold-off their opponents and earn a spot against Wahgunyah in the qualifying final at Sandy Creek.
The dangerous Tyson Neander kicked a goal with seconds left on the clock and the home team was pushing forward again when the final siren rounded.
The win came at a price with speedster Scott Bartel injuring his hamstring.
But Rutherglen fared much worse with the Cats forced into the elimination final and losing Jakeb Meyer for the rest of the season with a broken arm.
Hawk coach Adam Mudra said both teams took positives out of the match.
“It was a terrific game,” Mudra said.
“Both teams walked away in pretty good form.
"We just wanted to win the game to take the percentage out of it.
“You want momentum going into September and I think we have that at the moment.”
Kiewa-Sandy Creek took a 35-point buffer into half-time, thanks mainly to the dominance of Ryan Wallace, Callum Turner, Jacob Barber and Jake Hicks.
Leigh Cameron was also proving a handful in attack.
Rutherglen responded after the main break however with Damien Wilson, Sam Fiedler and Cameron Wilson taking the Cats to the brink of victory.
In arguably the upset of the season, Barnawartha defeated flag favourite Thurgoona by 40 points at Barnawartha,
The Bulldogs were flat from the outset and Cameron McNeill, Seamus Quinn and Josh Spence took full advantage.
McNeill was unstoppable kicking five goals with Mitch Exton and Paul Harrington chipping in with three each.
While Thurgoona missed coach Jamarl O’Sullivan, the Bulldogs took a strong line-up into the clash and were never in contention.
Zac Gibbons was the only player listed in their best.
Beechworth and Yackandandah played a draw at Beechworth.
In a see-sawing clash, the Bushrangers started brilliantly and looked every chance of winning at quarter-time after leading by 22 points.
But Lee and Jay Dale got their side back into the contest with the honours being evenly split.
Mitta United defeated Chiltern by 50 points at Mitta.
While the talent of Louis Miller and Jack Gilbee prevailed, the Swans weren’t disgraced in Brent Newton’s final match as coach.
Josh Roman, Luke Bokic and Corey Southern were gallant in defeat.
Tallangatta crushed Wodonga Saints by 128 points.
Tyson Smith was best afield with four goals while Joel O'Connell was typically hard at the contest.
Wahguyah hammered Dederang-Mt Beauty by 137 points.
Josh Clark, Dylan Cook, Matt Grantham and Shannon Schulz warned up for the finals with dominant performances.