BRIDGENORTH withstood a fourth-quarter surge from Hillwood in the NTFA division 1 preliminary final at Youngtown Oval yesterday to secure a grand final date with Rocherlea for the second year in a row.
The Sharks had the run of play early in the match, dominating possession and keeping the Parrots goalless until Luke Brockman broke the drought at the 25-minute mark.
Both sides were inaccurate in front of goal, with Hillwood leading 3.5 (24) to 1.6 (12) at the first change.
Bridgenorth coach Michael Bowden encouraged his men to go on the attack in the second quarter to take advantage of a minor breeze and they did - pumping through seven majors to Hillwood's two to overtake their rivals and set up a handy 21-point buffer at half-time.
Their lead remained the same at three-quarter-time before the Sharks booted three goals in five minutes early in the final stanza and levelled the scores 15 minutes from full-time. However, Bridgenorth was good enough to resist enormous pressure to win by six points and gain a chance to seek vindication against the suburban Tigers.
"It got a bit tighter than we thought it was going to be at the end," Bowden said post-match.
"We were a little undisciplined towards the end, in which a few penalties resulted in goals.
"The work rate from a few blokes like Joel Clements who rucked well for us and our backline was really good again and really impressed me.
"Daniel Sellers was really good in the midfield and Josh Murfett worked well in the first half."
Mathew Zanetto, Steven Bowden and Nick McElwee were also good contributors.
Leigh Blackwell finished with a five-goal haul and both Brockman and Luke Duncan kicked two goals each for the victors.
Hillwood's Tom Bennett continued his solid form slotting through four important goals, Tim Gibbons kicked three and Josh Chugg added two majors.
Ruckman Joe Groenewegen, Damien Summers and Tom Wilson were among the Sharks' best.
Looking ahead, Bowden said his side would need to play a full game of good football to bring down the reigning premiers on Saturday.
"The boys know what they have got to do, it is just whether we can play four quarters of football - it is really upon us if we really want to give Rocherlea a challenge," he said.
"You don't play football for revenge - you just go out there to win. We have just got to play our style of footy and see if it goes our way.
"Obviously our match-ups will change and we will need to adjust accordingly to play Rocherlea."