MCDFL - Navarre has booked itself a third consecutive Maryborough Castlemaine District Football League grand final appearance following a pulsating four point win over Carisbrook on Saturday at Princes Park, Maryborough.
Despite getting off to a slow start and with two of its leaders in coach Daniel Parkin and captain Louis Hannett watching from the sidelines, Navarre held off the previous unbeaten Redbacks to come away with a 13.12 (90) to 13.8 (86) victory.
It was Carisbrook who got the early jump on the Grasshoppers, booting the opening two goals of the match through Nathan Wright.
Aiden Lee responded with Navarre's first and only goal of the term, while Carisbrook went into quarter time holding a 22 point lead.
Navarre coach Daniel Parkin warned his side about Carisbrook flooding the forward line in that opening term and told the Grasshoppers to be smart with their skills.
"This quarter, keep it (kicks) short, go over the zone to hit a target and be shorter going sideways. We've had more of the play, but they're scoring. The best thing is, we've got three more quarters."
How true Parkin's words turned out to be.
Navarre quickly hit back in the second term, with goals to Josh Fowkes and Ben Scott pulling the margin back to nine points.
Carisbrook surged again, with a goal to Nick Wright extending the Redbacks to 24 points which would be the biggest of the match.
Ben Scott's second goal of the term and another to Zane Bigmore got Navarre back into the match.
Trailing by 13 points at half time, Parkin urged his players to keep fighting.
"We're two goals down. If we keep going, keep fighting at three quarter time we'll be up," he said.
"The bottom five or six players have to lift, which will go a long way to us winning."
It was Carisbrook who landed the first punch in the first couple of minutes in the third term .
As they had done for the entire match, Navarre found a way to work their way back into the contest.
Ben Scott was gifted a 50 metre penalty and calmly slotted through his fourth goal to level the scores at the 13 minute mark.
Sam Robinson chimed in and all of a sudden, Navarre had hit the front for the first time.
A see-sawing contest ensued throughout the term, both teams not ready to throw in the towel.
Grasshoppers Brian Lovison was a warrior through the midfield, while Brent Flood and Jayden Fowkes were keeping the dangerous Nathan Wright quiet.
The stage was set for a thrilling final term, with the Grasshoppers leading by just one point at three quarter time.
Contests were tough and exciting, reminding supporters what September football action is all about.
Carisbrook challenged with two majors in two minutes to regain the lead midway through the quarter.
However, it was Sam Robertson who stood tall against Redbacks big man Luke Treacy, taking a mark and kicking truly to gift Navarre a three point lead.
The final 10 minutes was all about survival of the fittest.
Grasshopppers Ash Driscoll and Josh Driscoll were working hard around the forward and back flanks, while Nic Murphy was strong in the midfield.
A hush went around the ground when Carisbrook booted the ball their way once again in the dying moments of the match. It was Sam Robertson who saved the day and effectively the match, booting the ball 50 metres the other way before the siren sounded.
The Grasshoppers play Lexton in this Sunday's grand final at Princes Park, Maryborough.