LAST weekend, Swifts kept their finals campaign alive with a burst of goals in the third quarter.
Their season was ended by a similar explosion from Edenhope-Apsley in the second quarter of yesterday’s first semi-final.
Six quick goals from the Saints turned a 10-point deficit into a 20-point lead in the blink of an eye early in the second quarter and the Baggies were never able to recover.
Edenhope-Apsley proved too strong, too hard and too fit for Swifts.
The Saints will now face Laharum in Saturday’s preliminary final after the Mountain Men fell to Kalkee.
Meanwhile, Swifts could not replicate their giant-killing form of the past two years and advance to their third consecutive preliminary final.
The Baggies looked up and about early and started with plenty of their trademark run in the first quarter.
Ash Cowen and Lachie Hamilton put the first two goals on the board to give the underdogs a 12-point advantage.
Ricky Whitehead followed up last weekend’s stellar game against Harrow-Balmoral with another impressive effort, orchestrating the Baggies’ attack from half-back.
But Edenhope-Apsley kept its cool under pressure, with Chris Oliver and Ben Johnson repelling Swifts’ numerous forward entries.
The Saints eventually worked their way into the game and Cam Domaschenz gave them the lead with his first goal midway through the term.
The team got well and truly on top in the second quarter with its centre clearance work.
Swifts kicked the first goal of the term through Tom Ruggles, before the Saints slotted six unanswered majors.
Edenhope-Apsley had eight goal-kickers on the board before one of them kicked multiple goals, highlighting their even spread.
Brent Christie’s kick from the centre square, which somehow bounced over the Baggies defenders’ heads, was symbolic of his team’s fortunes.
After trailing by 10 points early in the second quarter, the Saints went into the main break with a 36-point advantage.
From there they were never seriously troubled, despite a Baggies push in the third quarter reducing the margin to 20 at one stage.
There was no real venom in the final quarter as the margin stayed around the seven-goal mark for much of the term.
The Saints’ bullocking midfielders, such as Christie and Dave McLeish, ultimately proved too much for the smaller-bodied Swifts to handle at the stoppages.
The only blemish on their day was a report laid by the goal umpire against defender Chris Oliver for striking Swifts’ Zach Salmi.
The Saints requested the case to be heard by the independent tribunal, which is set for Wednesday night.
Saints co-coach Mal Coutts said his side finally produced some of the football it knew it was capable of.
“They had a bit of a breeze in the first quarter but we hung in there, and the second quarter we actually had lots of tackles and a lot of carry of the footy,” he said.
“If you work hard and work for one another, everything falls into place and that’s what happened.”
Coutts said the Saints’ leadership group all stepped up and led the way to victory.
Baggies co-coach Ben Martin said missed chances early in the game cost his side dearly.
“We had plenty of opportunities to get off to a really good start and didn’t capitalise – we kicked 3.4 and those four points could easily have been goals,” he said. “They came out in that second quarter and that’s what won them the game because they had similar shots to what we did but they put them through.”
Martin said the Baggies’ young core had a bright future ahead despite the loss, but said the team needed to concentrate on finishing in the top three to give itself the best chance at finals success.
There were no major injuries for either team.