WAGGA Tigers’ slick running game passed it’s biggest test as they enjoyed a 23-point win over Leeton-Whitton in Saturday's qualifying final.
Tigers ran the Crows off their feet as they made it nine wins on the trot, prevailing 9.14 (68) to 7.3 (45) at Narrandera Sportsground.
Tigers entered finals as the form team of the competition and will now take on Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes for the first place in the grand final.
It was the second quarter where Tigers put Leeton-Whitton to the sword, opening up a game-high lead of 30 points only to let the Crows off, then back into the contest.
Tigers dominated the second term with the breeze but missed opportunities came back to bite them as Leeton-Whitton snared the last two goals of the quarter to close the gap to 20 points at half-time.
The Crows made their move in the third term and came hard at Tigers, closing the gap to three points at the final change.
With the final in the balance, Tigers benefited from the breeze and controlled the term to kick the only three goals of the quarter.
Wagga Tigers captain-coach Matt Rava was pleased to see his team continue to build momentum at the right time of the year.
“We talked a lot about rewarding ourselves for the season we’ve had so it’s really pleasing to get the win and lock in a game against Mango next week,” Rava said.
“I think we had a pretty good run towards the end of the home and away season, in terms of the games we had, it put us in pretty good stead and today was another tough game, they just kept coming and coming at us.
“We didn’t kick real straight but it was good to get the reward in the end.”
Rava always had confidence that Tigers running game would stand up in finals.
“Our pressure, that’s one of the keys we talk about each week, pressuring the opposition, and I think we were pretty good in that department today,” he said.
“I think we can be better, but yeah our run and carry of the footy, using each other, we’ve been getting better and better at it all year and hopefully we can keep producing it.
“It’s the game plan we’ve been building towards all year and to see that it can stand up, I don’t think you can have one without the other, you’ve got to have that pressure on the opposition, but that running game plan, when we get it in our hands, it’s very pleasing to see it work.”
Angus Durnan was outstanding for Tigers in a best-on-ground performance at centre-half-forward.
WAGGA TIGERS (68)
2.2 5.8 6.11 9.14
1.0 3.0 7.2 7.3
Goals: (Wagga Tigers) J Buchanan 3, F Inglis 2, M Rava, B Morton, A Durnan, S Pearce; (Leeton-Whitton) T Meline 3, C Griggs 2, B O’Garey, L Meline.
Best: (Wagga Tigers) A Durnan, L Myers, C Lovell, B Graham, P Delaney; (Leeton-Whitton) C Griggs, T Meline, B Curley, M Hardie, T Conroy, I Houghton.
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