Finley suffered a tight loss to Murray League reigning premiers Nathalia on Saturday.
Playing for the Kelly Grains-Rex James Stockfeed Shield, the Purples edged their way to a nine point win at the Finley Apex Sports and Community Centre.
Liam Evans, contributing five goals, was Nathalia’s best with Ryan Butler, Alex Hicks and Bailey Bell also standing out for the Purples.
Matt Jackson (four goals), Kane Murphy and Tom McCarney did all they could for the Cats in an outstanding showing.
Final score, Nathalia 15.8 (98) to Finley 14.5 (89).
The young Cats started the game well with captain Cam Robertson leading the way in defence.
A strong spoil followed up with a smother on an attempted Nathalia shot on goal set the standard.
The visitors managed to score the first goal through classy onballer Evans.
In form midfielder Luke Moore was quick to respond with a running goal at the other end from the midfield.
The Cats were keen to play the game on their terms and control the stoppages.
Lachy Hawkins was again strong in the contests and provided Moore, Levi Middleton and Murphy with plenty of opportunities.
The backline, as in past weeks, provided plenty of rebound.
Paul Massingham, McCarney and Dan O’Bryan all contributed when the Cats transitioned play into the forward line for Jackson to soccer a clever goal in the square.
Nathalia responded with a goal of their own to make it two goals apiece with 15 minutes played.
The stage was set for another close match between the two teams that have been well matched for some time.
Few would have seen the five goals that came the way of the Cats in quick succession.
Jackson was the main man with two more, and Matt Wilson also kicked two.
When Tim Robertson created some space at half forward for Middleton to goal on the run, the margin at the first break was 34 points.
Nathalia used the break to reset and came out hard in the second term.
Three early goals saw the margin reduced to 16 points with Nathalia dominating play.
The Purps were able to spread the ball better in this period running in waves and kicking to position.
Not to be denied, the young Cats held firm. Forward pressure resulted in Luke Bramley being awarded a free kick for a strong tackle and he made the most of the opportunity.
Another major to Moore after Murphy took on the Purple defence, and the score was back out to a lead of 26 points at half time.
The Cats were taking their chances and when able to control the tempo appeared to be the better team.
The all important third term saw Finley’s margin reduced to just 12 points.
Scoring options dried up for the Cats while the Purps were able to create multiple shots on goal.
A three goal return from eight scoring shots to the visitors in a dominant term left the Cats clinging to a 12 point lead.
The lead was reduced to six points after a 50m penalty ended with Drew Barnes for his third goal of the match.
Ash Quinn kicked truly from the stoppage soon after and scores were level.
Another couple to Nathalia and the match appeared over.
Shaun Kable was able to find some space in the forward line.
Consecutive goals from opposite pockets saw the margin back to three points.
A third shot on goal fell agonisingly short.
The defensive clearance was broken down by Murphy who switched to Massingham for a goal on the run, and the home side were back in front.
Some hard running by Evans through the centre and a well weighted kick to advantage saw veteran Jason Limbrick mark strongly.
The resultant goal proved the match winner for the experienced Nathalia team.