Longford's glorious year was over in a blink of an eye on Saturday, Tom Bennett up forward proving the telling difference in Hillwood's win to end a sorry Tigers' tale.
The ex-North Launceston tall only returned home to the Sharks this year and booted an equal season-best five goals in the preliminary final to steer Hillwood to a 11.14 (80) to 8.7 (55) victory.
"We've worked hard the last three or four years to get where we are, but now we need to get the reward for it," coach Nathan Lowe said.
But the clinical result was in the balance entering time on during a stalemate in the third-quarter until Bennett sailed a 40-metre set shot on the boundary to put the Sharks in front for a fifth time.
Heading onto a collision course with Bridgenorth next week, Hillwood locked in the penultimate game at Invermay Park off back-to-back goals from Tristan Collins.
Kicking just a solitary goal in 12 previous games, Collins snapped a first in the pocket from an out-of-bounds free and another minutes later in a hurried snap in a pack.
Bennett finished the final with last-quarter bookend goals to make it five that was also aided by Tigers defender Baden Alexander going down in the opening minutes.
"We were knew that if we were right with Longford at three-quarter time we could overrun them," Lowe said.
"We have relied on our fitness the last couple of weeks.
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"It was also the first time we have had a full side in."
The Sharks four-goal-to-two dominant last term was only punctured by Jackson Blair providing a Longford spark with a number of opportunities but just one goal.
The minor premier's miserable finals campaign had ended in back-to-back losses.
Longford's biggest lead all day lasted six minutes after Lachlan Dakin swooped on to the ball inside the 50m arc to find an open goal square.
For the most part, the Tigers looked sluggish for a second week in a row and played conservatively with the game on the line.
"They were a little bit hesitant to pull the trigger," Longford coach Beau Thorp said.
"It showed when they did, at certain times, they could go bang out the other side."
The Tigers rose from scraping into the final five last year to top the season with a 14-2 home-and-away record.
Amid the deathly silent rooms, Thorp was resolute.
"They've got to learn from the hurt. You can see the tears in their eyes that they have to bounce back," he said.
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