Extra-time was needed to separate Swifts and Edenhope-Apsley in a thrilling elimination final at Rupanyup on Sunday.
The contest was see-sawing all day, but it was the Saints who were too strong in the end, winning 12.13 (85) to 10.16 (76).
Conditions were near perfect for football at Rupanyup, with a slight breeze favouring the netball shed end of the ground.
The Baggies took advantage of the wind early on in the do or die contest, dominating in the middle as well as inside 50 entries.
Big forward Ben Martin proved he was fit in his return match from a foot injury, kicking the first two goals of the day.
The Saints had to wait until the 11 minute mark of the first term before kicking a goal, but the momentum well and truly belonged with Swifts as they led 16-7 at quarter-time.
The intensity of the match picked up a gear in the second term, as the Saints looked much more dangerous with the wind behind them.
They hit the lead midway through the term as things evened up across the board.
Saints ruckman Jak Ryan kicked a great goal on the run from 40 metres out to put his side in front.
They held onto the lead for the remainder of the quarter, despite Martin kicking his third of the match in the second term.
Tensions flared before the break, with Saints forward Josh Clissold reported for an incident behind the play in the second term. The Saints took a four point lead into half-time.
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The Baggies made the most of the wind advantage after the break, booting five goals in the third term to take control of the contest.
“We had control of the play but we just left the door ajar and it showed what can happen in finals footy if you do,” Swifts coach Scott Carey said.
“We were able to use the ball a lot better and give ourselves opportunities to score, we just couldn’t put it between the sticks.”
Ill-disciplined acts cost the Saints, with Clint Rokebrand given a yellow card for a late hit, leaving the Saints down a man for most of the quarter.
The Stawell-based side led by 32 points at the final break.
“At three-quarter-time I told the boys we had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Saints coach Chris Oliver said.
The Saints did not lay down in the final term, with fans and coaches revving them up for a final push.
It was hard going early on, with the Baggies setting up strongly and making scoring hard.
“I thought we had control in the first five minutes or so but we began to put unnecessary pressure on the ball carrier and they gained some unstoppable momentum,” Carey said.
A huge last seven minutes from the Saints resulted in a barrage of goal, cutting the lead back and eventually drawing level at 70 points each. The Saints had all the momentum but could not pull ahead, with the teams drawn at the final siren.
“We rallied and hussled and harassed and it paid off in that last quarter,” Oliver said.
The Baggies had the better start to two five minute periods of extra time, Ben Martin booting another goal to take his tally to five for the match.
It was hectic out there and you don’t really know what to doScott Carey
But as was the case for most of the match, the Baggies failed to take their chances, leaving the door open for the Saints.
Matthew Butler hit back a few minutes afterwards as the Saints pulled ahead by three points at the first mini break. Jak Ryan kicked another for the Saints to seal the win and set up an elimination final against Jeparit-Rainbow.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys. They lifted when they needed to and kept fighting even when they had everything thrown at them,” Oliver said.
”Once we were up and about the feeling was there and it was hard to knock us down.”
Carey said his side was unable to gain any momentum in the two short five minute extra time periods.
“It was hectic out there and you don’t really know what to do,” he said.
“Playing five minutes each way is tough. They got on top and there just wasn’t enough time for us to hit back. They were the better team unit on the day.”
Lachlan Middleton and Jak Ryan were best for the Saints while Corey Prydderch and Daniel Parkin had standout games for the Baggies.