CUDGEWA put itself in the box seat to win the Upper Murray league premiership by holding off a gallant Bullioh by five points in the second semi-final at Cudgewa on Saturday.
The Blues secured the all-important home advantage and a week-off by holding firm 11.9 (75) to 10.10 (70) in one of the matches of the season.
Bullioh spearhead Ash Murray had a chance to grab victory in the dying seconds but his shot from 30-metres missed the mark.
Coach Brayden Carey was delighted to win a fierce contest after momentum swung on several occasions during the match.
"It was really important to get the win," Carey said.
"We have a heap of sore bodies.
"It's going to be handy particularly for a few of the older boys like myself.
"The week off is massive.
"The home advantage is big for us as well as we like playing on the big ground."
Ruckmen Leo Nicolson and Lachie Lourie were reported during the rugged encounter with the pair offered two-week penalties.
Both are expected to challenge the ban this week.
Bullioh made the early running to lead by 14 points at quarter-time before Cudgewa assumed control and took an 18-point buffer into the final term.
The Bulldogs were far from finished though with Josh Walters, Kieran Salome, Alex Freeman, Joe Bolton and Luke Welsh taking the match down to the wire.
Murray capped off another strong performance with eight goals despite strong opposition from ageless Cudgewa warrior Jim Cleven.
He now has 143 goals from 16 matches this season.
"Bullioh opened it up for Ash Murray and went through him a lot," Carey said.
"He played well but we were really happy with Jim Cleven's game."
In another key match-up, Cudgewa's Jake Vinge took on Bullioh co-coach Hamish Clark with Vinge featuring prominently in the Blues' best players.
The biggest injury cloud hangs over tough midfielder David Low.
Low, who has only just returned from a back injury, hurt his sternum and will be racing against time to be fit for the grand final.
"He should be right to play," Carey said.
"He's sore but he should be right."
Cudgewa had winners at ground level in Mitch Pynappels, Leigh McColl, Dayne Carey and Ethan Riddington while Adam Healy was effective with three goals.
Ben Hall, who needs five goals to bring up his century, was paid close attention by the Bullioh defence and managed two.
In the reserves, undefeated Bullioh defeated Cudgewa by 43 points and the Bulldogs accounted for Tumbarumba by 18 points in the under-14s.