Darley remains in the hunt for a third Ballarat Football League premiership in four years.
Using all their guile and experience, the Devils held off North Ballarat City by two points in a tense first semi-final at the City Oval on Sunday.
For the second week in a row North gave up a strong grip on the game – leading by 21 points early in the third quarter before Darley took control with five unanswered goals to lead by 15 going into the last term.
And just as it did in the qualifying final, North Ballarat again had a shot on goal to take the lead in the dying minutes, only to see it go out of bounds on the full.
This typified City’s fortune in front of goal, with it only have itself to blame for not taking a stronger grip on the contest in the first half.
North Ballarat went to the main break with a 15-point lead, but its score of 6.10 underlined the wasteful nature of its finishing.
In contrast, Darley took its chances to take the match 13.3 (81) to 11.13 (79) even though the Devils did not score after the nine-minute mark of the last quarter in a desperate finish.
North took the whip hand in the second term with Ben Simpson a springboard from defence, Harry Loader carrying the ruck load and Tim Speirs leading the way as its smaller players took the honours at ground level.
City added five goals and when it kicked the first major of the third term appeared to have a strong hold on the game.
However, once a Steve Kennedy and Brian Graham-led revival gained momentum everyone jumped on board, with Darley opening up the game and proving too quick for North as it poured on seven goals for the third term.
Darley’s intercept marking in defence via the likes of Shane Page, Darren Leonard, Jackson Carrick and Graham stepped up as North Ballarat lost some popise and too often bombed the ball forward without a real target.
Darley 3.1, 5.1, 12.3, 13.3 (81)
North Ballarat City 1.5, 6.10, 8.12, 11.13 (79)
GOALS – Darley: Dane Grenfell 4, Steven Kennedy 3, Harley Inglis 2, Matthew Young 1, Jake Ancrum 1, Shannon Mc Donald 1, Jackson Carrick 1. North Ballarat City: Tim Speirs 3, Marcus Darmody 3, Mitchell Johns 2, Mitchell Gilbert 1, Keenan George 1, Tyler George 1
BEST – Darley: Steven Kennedy, Harley Inglis, Jackson Carrick, Darren Leonard, Brian Graham, Dane Grenfell. North Ballarat City: Sam Bromley-Lynch, Harrison Loader, Ben Simpson , Tom Bromley-Lynch, Simon McCartin
Preliminary final fixtures for next Saturday at the City Oval:
SENIORS: East Point v Darley
RESERVES: Sunbury v Bacchus Marsh
UNDER-18.5: Sunbury v East Point