North Wagga will get another chance to break the club's 25-year premiership drought after securing their second straight grand final appearance with a 32-point preliminary final win over Marrar on Saturday.
The Saints leaned on the experience of last year's grand final, as well as last week's loss to East Wagga-Kooringal, to engineer a 7.6 (48) to 1.10 (16) victory in horribly windy conditions at Robertson Oval.
"We learnt our lesson from last year," North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin said.
"We had a pretty basic game plan of just trying to gain territory and edge the ball forward any chance we could, without taking too many risks, and back our one-on-one ability to win contests."
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Saints mixed things up from the outset, with midfielder Tom Bennetts thrown in to the ruck to try to nullify Marrar big man Nick Molkentin.
And Corey Watt's late inclusion added another element, after convincing the club to give him a Friday night fitness test - where he proved he was right to play despite a hamstring injury.
"There were no games or anything. I was super surprised when Watty came up. He wanted to give himself until Friday afternoon and we put him through a half-hour session and he got through," Hamblin said.
"He just gives the boys a bit of confidence when he's out there with the pressure he puts on and no doubt he'll be better off next week."
In ordinary conditions, there were just four scoring shots in a reasonably even first quarter. It was 18 minutes before North Wagga forward Josh Campbell kicked the game's first goal, on the end of some good ball movement.
Marrar threatened to storm into it with a quick clearance and a goal to Nick Cooper at the start of the second quarter. But few Bombers' fans, or footballers, could've imagined their first would also be their last.
That's the sort of day it was for them. The reigning premiers kicked 1.3 in the second quarter while North Wagga kicked 3.1 for a 15-point lead but Saints were better around the contest and Marrar were making mistakes and struggling to get into the game.
North Wagga were happy to make them pay, none more so than Watt who capitalised on a Bombers' error deep in defence to bang through their third goal of the quarter.
When Saints' Jake May found Cayden Winter in space in the forward 50 shortly after half-time, the Saints co-captain made sure Marrar weren't just looking for their mojo - they needed to find four goals with it.
The intensity went up a notch but the scoreboard barely as the Bombers added two behinds and North Wagga missed two and put one out on the full.
But they were in the ascendancy, even before Campbell clasped one of the few clean marks from a forward all day and made it a 28-point margin at the last break.
The Bombers' intent was there at the start of the last, but still not the execution. They had some momentum, only to kick two more points, before North Wagga backmen Matt Thomas and Jack Flood popped up for crucial marks to defuse another couple of raids.
The game then looked a done deal when a Troy Curtis mongrel punt from 50 metres out wobbled in the wind and floated through. The 33-point advantage was a beautiful sight for such an ugly looking kick.
"I thought our back six stood up well but we stripped the game back to basics in these terrible conditions, we adapted to how Marrar were playing and didn't try to be too pretty like we were last week (against EWK). We got the ball going forward at all costs to give our forwards a chance," Hamblin said.
Curtis' was the last goal of the game and the last scoring shot for 12 minutes before Marrar, fittingly for the day they'd had, finished with a final behind.
It's the first time in Shane Lenon's three-year reign as Marrar coach that they've been stopped before the grand final, while ensuring Hamblin gets another shot at a flag in his fourth and final season in charge at North Wagga.
"It's really pleasing. We obviously had a bit of a slip-up against East Wagga last week and just tried to keep the vibe positive and the boys up and about. We know the talent we've got and think our best football can beat anyone," Hamblin said.
"I'm really proud to get the club to another grand final and hopefully we can finish the job this time."
Hamblin said he can't imagine anything other than a full list to choose from despite Watt finishing the game with ice on the hamstring and Guy Ward taking care of his ankle.
While Bennetts knew he'd been in a game after being given the assignment on Marrar's gun ruckman.
"I was happy with the job Tom Bennetts done on Nick Molkentin. Obviously Molky's a great player and really dominant in the air but just working him down all day and around the contest, I thought Tom was good," Hamblin said.
"Tommy's got a lot of heart and I just thought, who would I most hate to ruck against if I was a ruckman, and that'd be Tommy Bennetts for sure. I was super proud of his efforts."
Josh Campbell (two goals) was the game's only multiple goalkicker as North Wagga effectively reversed the result of their last meeting with Marrar, (when the Saints were held to one goal and couldn't get into the game).
They had plenty of contributors but Thomas was superb at the back while Ben Alexander and Kane Flack gave them drive and midfielders Cayden Winter and Jake May were also heavily involved.
Molkentin gave it everything for Marrar and continued his season-long habit of knowing where to be to cut off ball at the back, while Jed Jenkins dug in in the middle and Jack Reynolds and Truman Carroll tried to spark the side. But it simply wasn't the Bombers' day.