Augusta-Margaret River 13.8 (86) d Busselton 12.7 (79)
Augusta-Margaret River produced a red hot third quarter to turn Sunday’s qualifying final on its head and surprise arch-rivals Busselton by seven points .
The Hawks, who had trailed by a game-high 28-points at half time, flicked the switch in the third quarter booting six unanswered majors to take the lead by the final change.
Although the goals dried up in a nail-biting last term at Hands Oval — both sides kicked just one each—Margaret River held on to move into this weekend’s second semi-final against South Bunbury.
The winner of that game will book a place in the grand final.
Busselton will face a cutthroat bout against Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault, who defeated the Eaton Boomers in Sunday’s other game.
The Magpies built their first half advantage on a stellar showing from spearhead Ben Grace, who had seven majors at the long break.
But he was well held after that by a Hawks double team of Harry Marsh and Richard Devitt and did not score again.
With a mountain to climb in the second half, Josh Morgan set up Mitch Gerrans for the first goal of the third term, and kicked the second himself to spark Margaret River.
Trevor Oliver was mopping up brilliantly across half back for the Hawks, who booted a further three majors to take the lead for the first time in the game.
By the final change, Margaret River had not only managed to work their way back into the contest, but effectively turned proceedings on their head with six unanswered strikes to lead by six points.
More than 14-minutes had elapsed in the last quarter before Brent Snook tied the scores for Busselton after nailing a set shot.
In an utter arm-wrestle Grace had a chance to give the Magpies a lead when he marked directly in front, on the 50m arc.
But he failed to make the distance.
At the other end of the ground a disastrous turnover allowed Morgan to gather a tumbling ball at half-forward for Margaret River.
With the Busselton defence caught out of position, Morgan held his nerve to set up Tim Noakes who ran into an open goal to wrestle back the lead.
When Vaughn Colyer snapped a handy point not long afterwards, the Hawks led by seven with less than three minutes on the clock and they held on for a memorable triumph.
The only sore point for Margaret River was aninjury to playing coach Luke Norman, who had to be stretchered off the ground early in the second quarter after receiving a heavy knock on the wing.
He returned to call the shots from the boundary line in the second half.
Earlier, Grace slotted three to give the Magpies a 14-point lead at the first change.
Jordan Eastwell was winning plenty of ball around the half-forward line for Busselton, while Justin Simmonds was giving the Hawks’ a good part time ruck option.
Vaughn Colyer dribbled through a brilliant check-side snap from hard-up against the boundary line to spark Margaret River, who dominated the opening stages of the second term.
But back-to-back posters denied the Hawks of the lead midway through the quarter.
Against the run of play, Magpie Jay Reynolds steered through a goal to lift his side.
It proved to be just what the doctor ordered as Busselton finished the quarter with five of the last seven majors — including another two to Grace — to take a 28-point lead into the long break.
The second half was a different story however, as Busselton could only manage one more goal for the entire game.
Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault 10.11 (71) d Eaton Boomers 9.9 (63)
Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault took another step towards the defence of their 2010 premiership with a hard fought eight-point elimination final win over the Eaton Boomers at Payne Park on Sunday.
The Boomers went into the game on the strength of four consecutive victories over the Lions in 2010 and 2011 and with their smaller players able to find space in the first term they appeared to be on track for another triumph.
Matt Jas was winning a lot of possessions in the midfield and with brother Steve and rovers Shaun Crane and Gino Catalano doing likewise the Boomers added five goals in the opening quarter.
Josh Went was a surprise inclusion after a long injury layoff and was the first to goal, but Lion Luke Skehan was quick to reply with a clever snap.
Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault were wayward in front of goal and managed just 2.7 for the first term.
Dean Buzan, who booted three behinds was the main offender.
The second quarter saw just three goals kicked with the Lions adding 2.3.
Eaton were held to an inaccurate 1.4 despite playing better football.
Matt Jas was in fine form and with their defence led by Matt Scott, who nullified Buzan, the Boomers held a narrow seven-point lead at the long break.
The Lions set up their victory in the third term when they straightened up their goal kicking, while Eaton continued to be wasteful.
Buzan got off to a good start with a subtle deflection to Tyler Gleadell for their fifth goal and following a Daniel Tamm point Skehan popped up with a mark near the point post and played on quickly to put the Lions in the lead for the first time since the opening stages of the game.
Andrew Siegert, David Newman, Simon Orsi and the Lions defence were now winning most of the contests and the Boomers were struggling to get inside 50m.
Goals to Keegan Fortescue and Gleadell delivered Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault a 15-point lead at the final change — the biggest margin of the game.
The last quarter was the best of the game as both sides staked their claims for victory.
The Lions were held scoreless for the first 10 minutes and the Boomers booted two goals to reduce the deficit to just three points.
Went kicked a classic off his left foot from well out and the promoted Jayme Osiejak ran into an open goal against the run of play.
The pressure was on and with Chris Atthowe finding the ball at will and feeding it out to others a comeback looked likely.
Arguably best on ground Siegert snapped truly from well out in a quick reply but a costly turn over at half forward by the Lions saw the Boomers sweep down field where Brody Russell found Michael Russell on the lead and it was a three point game again.
But Buzan, with a game tally of 1.3 then had a set shot from near the boundary at half forward and kicked it straight through the middle to stem the tide.
The Boomers’ last chance came three minutes into time on when Atthowe’s shot from 45m hit the post and from then on it was no holds barred as both sides threw themselves in to the contests and a number of stoppages followed.