An inspirational third-quarter fightback helped Evandale edge Old Scotch by five points under lights on Saturday night.
The Country Eagles trailed by five goals midway through the second term but strung together eight of the next nine to take an 11-point lead into the final change.
Old Scotch had chances to clinch the match in the final minutes after late goals to George Walker and Josh Harris brought the Thistles to within a kick, but Evandale held on to win 14.4 (88) to 12.11 (83) and lock in a date with Lilydale next week.
Sam Bannister, Thomas Chugg (four goals) and big man James Miller all starred for the Eagles but coach Anthony Axton said a 22-man effort was the only way to outdo the four-time reigning premiers.
“We knew that if we just kept hammering away... we were getting enough possession of the footy but we were giving it back to them too easily,” Axton said.
“Once we started lowering our vision and moving the ball forward with more purpose I think we turned the game around a bit and played a cracking third quarter which is the premiership quarter, and you’re not going to lose too many games of football if you play like that in the third.”
Axton said his side nearly “put the cue in the rack” too early but was thrilled his charges managed to hold on in the final few minutes.
“Full credit to Scotch, they threw everything at us but to the boys’ credit they came out on the right side of the coin today.”
LILYDALE booked itself a finals double chance with a brutal 174-point demolition of Perth in the first elimination final at Invermay Park.
The Magpies all but kept pace with Lilydale in the first half, kicking six goals to three in the second term to trail by less than three goals at half-time.
But the second half proved a whole new ball game as the Demons kicked 12 unanswered third-quarter goals with Kade Dwyer running rampant in the forward pocket.
The final quarter started as the third ended - with a major from coach Thane Bardenhagen - and Perth could manage only one more goal for the game as the Demons kicked 14 more to finish on 36.15 (231).
RELATED: Photos from Lilydale vs Perth
Bardenhagen said he was pleased by his side’s ability to lift and take the game on after half-time.
“(Perth) are a very attacking team and they can get run-ons,” he said.
“It was a bit disappointing that we let them get a run-on in the second quarter and go so well but what was really pleasing was how we responded in the second half and running out the game until the end.”
Bardenhagen praised the efforts of midfielders Wil Lockhart and Bradley Rayner and forwards Josh Griggs (seven goals) and Billy Tuckerman (six goals), saying his side would now move its focus to next week.
“It was excellent to get a win but the job is ahead of us and we want to go the whole way, not like last year falling one short so that’s our goal.”