Not even a string of injuries could stop Springbank marching on to the second week of the Central Highlands Football League finals.
The Tigers were left without any rotations on the bench at the end of the match, but had done enough to beat Dunnstown by 36 points in the first elimination final at Waubra on Saturday.
The wet and windy conditions meant the clash was never going to be a skilful one and it was Springbank that seemed to have the answers more often.
Billy Driscoll played a starring role forward for the Tigers and his performance - which included two goals and a hand in others - was too good for the Towners to handle. He was a clear best on ground, but the likes of ruckman Brock Freeman, backman Simon Quinlan, utility Justin Simpson and Brett and Joel Maher all shone at various times.
Quinlan left the field in the second half with a groin complaint and was joined by Paul O'Shea, Sam Cue and Matt Lakey - all with knee issues - on the sidelines.
Springbank kicked into the breeze and managed to establish a 15-point quarter time lead on the Towners, which were never able to claw their way in front. Dunnstown closed the margin to seven points with back-to-back majors from Mitch Henderson in the third quarter, but the Tigers then booted the last three majors of the term to have the match in their keeping at the last change.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries in the second half of the year so there has probably been a little bit of a doubt about how we are going to go in the finals,” Springbank coach Troy Beamond said.
“I thought our pressure went to the next level and that set us up for the win.”
In a special day for the club, five Maher brothers – Joel, Kieran, Brett, Terence and Karl – all played in the senior side.
For Dunnstown, Ben and Tim Collins tried their guts out, Will Short was solid at full back and Brayden Leonard offered support in defence.
Towners coach Justin Abrams said his side had players carrying injuries on Saturday, but admitted the Tigers were “far too good”.
“Our fairy tale didn’t quite come true, but we rode the emotion and momentum as far as we could,” Abrams said.
“Our average age was 20 on the field so our future is really promising and finals experience will be invaluable for our club.
“Some key learnings will come out in the coming weeks, which will make us better again moving forward.”
The Tigers will meet Waubra in a semi final next weekend.