A year on from the most heart-breaking of defeats, Waaia exorcised its preliminary final demons with a professional 33-point win against Deniliquin Rovers to book a trip to the Picola District Football League decider next weekend.
A plucky Rovers outfit never gave in and would not let itself be blown away, but it simply could not bridge the gap to the outstanding Bombers, who will now get the chance to mark their incredible period with a premiership.
Waaia led by seven points at quarter-time, but took serious control in the second, 3.6 for the quarter showing its dominance yet leaving the door slight ajar for the Rovers, still just 21 points adrift.
The Rovers dug in and while the Bombers squandered some chances with 1.3 in the third, the Rover turned for home just 18 points down after two goals in the term gave them an outside shot of the upset.
But Waaia would not be denied, with another wasteful return of 2.6 for the fourth not able to ruin its day, a 33-point winner and grand final-bound.
“I was really rapt with the result, not only in the seniors, but also to have the reserves get through, with our poor injury run this year to get to this position I’m super proud of our squad to continually step up to the plate,” Waaia coach Matt Brown said.
”Connditions were poor so we had to adjust our game style a little bit, but we have played our style for the last two years and we know it’s good enough to match it with the best. Deni challenged us all day as Katty did the final before, so it was really pleasing that we continue to lift the bar when we are challenged.
“Our tackle pressure was through the roof as was our contested ball work. Our control and tempo when Deni came at us was really pleasing for a young group to stay composed and keep the game on our terms, that went a long way to us winning the game.”
Backmen Miles Rowlands, Anthony Bergamin and Aaron Shelton stood out with the intercept marking of Mitch Cleeland, while Jesse Trower and a Dylan Cornick rebounded the ball at will.
Todd Davies, Lachie Henderson and Tim Belford provided plenty of run and Ash Thompson and Sam Richardson racked it up, but it was centre half-forward Charlie Burrows who dominated most, taking 13 marks in his return of 2.6.
While Brown and his troops were keen to move on to this weekend’s final challenge, the importance of what the side had achieved was not lost on them.
“The mood whilst excited and proud of where we have got to, really Saturday’s win is just that, it’s gone and we are where we want to be and have a huge week ahead of us,” Brown said.
“It’s been 14 years since we won our last granny, so we know how hard you have to work to get to a grand final let alone win one.
“The rooms were packed after the game and seeing old club legends get there that you don’t see every week, it really sinks in how much the community is behind us whether we are sucessful or struggling.
“I’ve just said to the boys enjoy this week, it may never happen again so take it all in, be proud of where we have got to, we have a crack at the ultimate and it’s all in our hands now.”
Waaia 3.1, 6.7, 7.10, 9.16 (70) d Deniliquin Rovers 2.0, 3.4, 5.4, 5.7 (37)