Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong all but assured themselves of a top three-finish with a come from behind win over Leeton-Whitton on Saturday.
The Crows upped the ante in the battle for third spot when they kicked the final four goals of the third term to go into three-quarter-time four points in front.
But the Lions showed their new-found maturity and controlled the final term to run out 19-point winners, 8.11 (59) to 6.4 (40) at Ganmain Sportsground.
It was GGGM’s fifth win on the trot and they will now enjoy the bye, before preparing for a qualifying final showdown with Collingullie-Glenfield Park with a final round derby against Coolamon.
GGGM coach Christin Macri was pleased to see his team respond when challenged.
“It was good to win a different way,” Macri said.
“We were really challenged at three quarter time but we really stood up and it was an important win.”
Jacob Olsson continued his outstanding season with a best-on-ground performance in the ruck.
He was closely followed by experienced midfielders Josh Bubnich, Jesse Lander and Aaron Proctor, while Angus Cumming and Tom Anderson also enjoyed good games.
Macri knew the importance of the win in the context of the Lions’ season.
“Mango has still got to go away to Griffith and we’ve got to play Coolamon in the final round but we were going to be challenged by Leeton for third so it was certainly a big result,” he said.
“Now we’ve got a bye, so we’ll sit back and relax and it will give us a chance to get some sore boys right before finals.”
The Lions hope to welcome welcome back Dan Foley and Zac Wiencke for the final round clash with the Hoppers.
The loss for Leeton-Whitton means the reigning premiers are set to meet Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes in the elimination final.
The Crows’ defence kept them in the contest and they were led well by Kyle Pete, Tom Meline, Will Wakeman and Ryan Dunn.
GGGM forward Riley Corbett was held goalless for the first time this year.
Leeton-Whitton coach Jade Hodge kicked three goals.
The Crows have games against Coolamon and Turvey Park to finish the home and away season and prepare themselves for finals.
Crows assistant coach Bryce O’Garey was a late withdrawal and did not play against the Lions on Saturday.