NAVARRE - Navarre was out to prove that reaching the Maryborough-Castlemaine District Football League grand final in 2011 was no fluke and they did just that by once again achieving finals success in 2012.
It was a tremendous recovery by the Grasshoppers, who were two wins, two losses after round five and ended up clawing their way back to eventually finish the season in third position with a 13-3 win-loss ratio.
The pressure was on the Grasshoppers to again pick up where they left off last season and with a new coach (Daniel Parkin) at the helm, as well as losing key ruckman Ben Martin with a knee injury, the club was in for a challenge.
However Parkin was positive about his side's prospects at the beginning of the season, saying that they had a good nucleus of players who had won flags as juniors and all they had to do was to take that next step up.
Navarre struck the MCDFL bye in round one, with their 2012 campaign beginning a week later against Talbot and although missing Parkin (ankle), Nic Murphy (leg) and Louis Hannett (hamstring) they showed a lot of promise to win by six goals.
The next three weeks would prove to be a rollercoaster ride for the Grasshoppers.
They suffered a 37-point loss to Newstead, a less than impressive first half against Harcourt that eventually resulted in a 41-point win and then came an uncharacteristic 80-point loss at the hands of Trentham.
By this stage, Navarre was on the ropes as injuries and unavailability began to take their toll.
An integral part of the team, midfielder Jeremy Harrington was forced out for three weeks and was joined by Ash Driscoll and Brian Lovison, while key defender Daniel Fitzell went overseas.
Hannett's hamstring gave way again, adding to the Grasshoppers woes prior to the interleague break.
Navarre bounced back from the interleague round to record their third win for the season, defeating Maryborough Rovers by 29 points.
This started a winning streak for Navarre, as the Grasshoppers then went on to win the next six matches including retaining the Hannett-Ross shield (against Natte Bealiba) and recording a thrilling two point victory over Maldon, in which a goal to Louis Hannett sealed victory with just seconds remaining.
Navarre suffered a reality check in round 11 with a shock 65-point loss to ladder leaders Lexton before they quickly regrouped, finishing the season off on a positive note by winning the final five matches before finals.
It was a case of deja vu for Navarre, who did exactly the same thing in 2011 before meeting Carisbrook in a qualifying final.
Last year, Navarre lost that match and the trend continued in 2012 with the Redbacks booting five unanswered goals in the third term to run out 20-point winners.
The Grasshoppers were then forced to play a cut-throat semi final against Trentham.
The memories of their drubbing last time were still there, but this was finals - and Navarre was switched on from the outset to come away with a 33-point victory.
A week later the Grasshoppers had to face Maldon, where they overcame a nervous start to record a gritty 23-point win and progress through to their second grand final in a row.
Unfortunately for Navarre, they were unable to go one better than 2011 with Carisbrook proving to be the better team on the day, running out 22-point winners.
However, there is no cause for concern for the Grasshoppers.
Coach Daniel Parkin is sticking with the main role and is on the lookout for one or two assistants to help out next season.
Navarre has no major injuries and if the young talented players stick around, the Grasshoppers have an extremely good chance to finally claim the MCDFL premiership in 2013.
Best win: Maldon, round seven, by 2 points at Maldon.
Navarre withstood a Maldon comeback to come away with the narrow win. With just 10 seconds remaining on the clock, Louis Hannett passed the ball to Kris Brennan who duly converted - his kick sailing through the middle just as the siren sounded to hand Navarre a last gasp victory.
Worst loss: Carisbrook, grand final, by 22 points at Princes Park, Maryborough.
Parkin said Navarre got 'soundly beaten' in their biggest match for the season.
The Grasshoppers run through the midfield was stifled by Carisbrook, putting pressure on them to kick to a contest.
Navarre battled hard all afternoon, but were no match for the Redbacks who simply were the better team on the day.
To see the full interview with coach Daniel Parkin, see today's edition of The Stawell Times-News.