North Wagga's 24-point victory over Marrar on Saturday had plenty of urgency but neither the look nor the feel of a grand final rematch.
There was no unfurling of the flag, given the defending premiers had taken their home game to Temora due to a dry Langtry Oval.
Only half of the 44 players from last year's decider were involved, with Marrar fielding nine survivors and the Saints 13 (and Corey Watt only for a minute or two due to a hamstring strain).
The Saints' spoils of victory - four premiership points - won't ease anything from the past. And Marrar, despite dropping just their second game in more than a season, could take plenty from the 11.14 (80) to 8.8 (56) loss.
From the outset, North Wagga threatened to get on top but were continually kept in check by the young Bombers whose energy inspired as they went to quarter-time with a one-point lead and their tails up.
After just a goal apiece in the first, the scoring rate picked up in the second in a game as high in turnovers as it was in intensity, with both enjoying passages on top.
The lead changed hands three times in the second term, and Saints went to the break a goal in front after exciting forward Dayne Hancock's second.
They looked like blowing it open early in the third after Guy Ward stretched the lead.
But with Marrar ruckman Nick Molkentin's towering performance, Jackson Moye and Cal Gardner lifting them and Zach Walgers dangerous up forward, the Bombers constantly came back, even reclaiming a narrow lead.
North Wagga's edge was starting to show though. Two goals in four minutes (including Hancock's third) restored a 12-point advantage and when Ward finished off a brilliant passage, in which he and Cayden Winter, both handled the footy in defence and a few touches later in attack, they were 19 in front.
Still, the Bombers made them sweat, as Walgers (three goals) closed it to seven points again early in the last. It wasn't until a superb shot from Jake May well into the fourth quarter put the Saints up by 15 that they were assured of victory, taking control with eight straight scoring shots to close it.
"I was happy with our performance. I thought they played a bit smarter in patches. They done well clogging up our forward line and they freed up their forward line quite well and Zach Walgers was really important for them. It was a high pressure game but I was happy with the result," coach Kirk Hamblin said.
He missed the game with a back injury and Saints also lost ruckman Blake Thompson with a calf and Brayden Skeers with concussion late while Ward was off for a considerable time with an ankle.
Hamblin was happy with the Saints' ball movement and their attack on the ball but noted Marrar matched that intensity.
Cayden Winter's effort through the middle led their performance while Sam Longmore brought intensity and Hancock was dangerous, finishing with 3.3.
The Saints hope this week's injuries aren't serious and have Troy Curtis, Ben Alexander and Hamblin to come back in for their next game against East Wagga-Kooringal.
However the prognosis was grim for Nathan Dennis, whose knee injury in their round one win against Barellan was confirmed to be a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament which will cost him the season and Saints a forward.
Marrar head home after Easter to host The Rock-Yerong Creek in the Anzac Challenge, which has shifted to a Saturday at Langtry Oval this year.
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