A LATE Matt Fowler goal saw Thurgoona through to the TDFL grand final amid a comedy of errors in the final quarter of the preliminary final against Barnawartha.
The Bulldogs prevailed 9.12.66 to 8.13.61 thanks to Fowler's goal in the dying minutes of the final quarter.
The forward focal point took a mark on a tough angle after an errant Jayden Kotzur shot on goal from roughly 50 metres out.
The Tigers weren't about to roll over though, and managed to push the ball deep into their forward line.
A mad scramble for possession ultimately led to Peter Cook soccering the ball off the ground, but his last roll of the dice was an unlucky one, as the ball went through for a behind.
The five-point Thurgoona victory sets up a sequel to last year's grand final against Kiewa-Sandy Creek, which the Bulldogs won convincingly.
Coach Jamarl O'Sullivan said it had been a tough and scrappy game at times, but that his players had all stood up when their number was called.
“Both sides had a red hot dip, and it probably could have gone either way,” O'Sullivan said.
“There was a lot of pressure, but we had a lot of key moments from our guys where they were able ton win one on two, one on three contests and stop some of Barny's pushes forward when it looked like they were away.
“We probably had a few players who were a bit down, but everyone had their moments late.
“That was the reward for staying in the contest, when their time came they stood up.”
Thurgoona's Lucas Mellier and Kotzur, and Barnawartha's Mitch Exton and Brad Star were the only multiple goalscorers, each booting two goals.
Michael Rampal returned from injury to face the Tigers and was one of the Bulldogs’ best, despite not playing since late July.
O'Sullivan said his energy and competitiveness had been a driving force.
“His energy was fantastic, it was good to have him back,” he said.
“He's just a competitive beast – he'll be much better for the run and we're pumped he'll be there next week.”
Rampal missed last year's grand final win after breaking his jaw in the qualifying final.
Kade Brown had a prolific game, while Rampal, Mark Haydon, Daniel Kannenburg and Tom Rake were among the Bulldogs’ best.
The Tigers also had plenty of contributors, with Josh Star, Seamus Quinn and James Wells leading the way.
Young gun Connor Wiffen also turned a few heads, kicking an impressive goal that sparked a three-goal Barnawartha resurgence in the third quarter.