It certainly wasn't the easy route, but Hillwood made sure their season lives another day with a come-from-behind 15.6 (96) to 13.14 (92) win over Rocherlea on Sunday.
A five-goal-to-two last quarter, including Jake King's winning major in the last 30 seconds saw the Sharks emerge from the dead after trailing by as much as 19 points in the third term.
In front of a raucous Invermay Park crowd, Brayden Claridge had the chance to kick his fifth and seal the game for the Tigers before a coast-to-coast effort saw King slot the final goal and win one of the more memorable NTFA matches in recent history.
It wasn't fully confirmed, however, as a Shaun Etchell free kick right on the siren saw the speedy midfielder get a chance to send the Tigers through from outside 50 but it proved to be too much.
TIME TO DECIDE:
- Q&A: Chris Fagan on Tasmania's bid for an AFL team
- 'There's a thirst': Brady, Thorp, Sanders talk logistics
- Tasmanian AFL team: Getting the economics right
- Footy pathway needs earlier start: Sanders
- Time for Tas to sever team ties, says former AFL boss
- Editorial: Now is the time to believe
- AFL bid is now or never
- Sign the pledge here
Mark Walsh and Braidy Squires were everywhere for the Sharks, collecting the ball all over the ground with Zac Oldenhof and youngster Declan Bowditch reliable heads in defence.
Regular suspects Jacob Hawkins, Sam Maddern and captain Luke Richards impressed for the Tigers, who as the form team in the back half of the season, turned heads and caused major upsets.
The Sharks hit the scoreboard early as the first quarter saw the lead swing back and forth consistently with the Tigers carrying an eight-point lead into the break - kicking five goals to four with the wind.
Two quick goals to Jacob Chamberlain and Josh Moore off the back of prolific clearance work from Mark Walsh saw the Sharks burst to a two-goal lead in as many minutes.
Claridge nailed two in the quarter, including a 60-metre bomb to open proceedings as Jordan Cousens, Andrew Cox Goodyer and Luke Purdon helped eradicate Hillwood's rapid start.
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
Scoring slowed rapidly in the second as Walsh and Claridge both showed their class, converting boundary set shots for their respective sides to keep the margin at eight.
Multiple North Launceston premiership winner Jake Pearce kicked two in the space of five minutes to get the Sharks a taste of the lead but Luke Purdon found the big sticks to wrestle it back before Corey Anderson sent home a bullet to give the Tigers a 8.5 (53) to 7.1 (43) half-time break.
After the main break, it was Hillwood who made an impact immediately as Tom Bennett found the big sticks off the back of yet another Squires set-up.
Once again, Rocherlea found a way to bite straight back as Shaun Etchell snapped his way through the middle and a behind the play incident gifted Brayden Claridge his fourth and his side a three-goal lead, which proved to be their biggest of the day.
Powerful forward Andrew Whitmore and Bennett grabbed majors to their name as the Tigers started to let opportunities slip through their hands with only a second goal to Anderson saving them from losing the quarter - kicking 3.5 to 3.2.
The Pearce duo, alongside Walsh, stepped up in the key moments in the last, with Jake sending the crowd into a frenzy with a brilliant snap following multiple Dan Withers efforts and Nathan kicking his second to put the Sharks within one point early on.
Chants of Moorey rang across the ground as the Hillwood big man soccered through his second for the day, giving the Sharks the lead for the first time in the second half before opposition coach Cox-Goodyer wrestled the lead straight back.
Hopes of facing Longford next week bounced back and forth as a Nathan Pearce goal was followed by Adam Etchell's first major.
Two missed Rocherlea points with less than two minutes to go looked to be the difference before King sealed the deal and confirmed yet another Sharks-versus-Tigers match-up.
Subscriptions are available here.
Sign up to our Sport email here.
Know a junior sport star? Make a nomination for our 2019 Junior Sports Awards here.