WOOMELANG-LASCELLES will play in a Mallee Football League grand final for the first time in seven years after a stunning come-from-behind victory over Beulah.
The win gives the Cats the rare opportunity to win a premiership flag from fourth place.
A large crowd at Hopetoun paid $6900 to watch an entertaining preliminary final in which Woomelang-Lascelles came out on top by 28 points.
After going down to Sea Lake-Nandaly the previous weekend, Beulah looked to have this game in its keeping after grinding its way to a four-goal lead towards the end of the third term.
Ryan McKenzie starred, Peter Lehmann and Dennis Redden were on top on the forward line and Tom Hallam, Brad Shannon and Andrew Bell were teaming well in a Beulah defence that resembled a brick wall.
But the Cats were not done with yet.
Two late goals – the first from a free kick in the goal square to Aaron Lonergan and the second on the bell after a mark to Joshua Ratcliffe – narrowed the lead to 11 points at the final break.
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Ratcliffe was the inspiration in a final quarter that saw Woomelang-Lascelles run all over what was a tired and dispirited Beulah outfit.
A nine-goal-to-three final quarter was a sign that the fitter, stronger-bodied Cats are going to give Sea Lake-Nandaly Tigers a run for their money in what should be a great grand final.
The Blues had the chance to increase their three-quarter-time lead when they went immediately into attack for Lehmann to mark and score a behind.
When Dennis Redden scored another point, Beulah was wasting chances and the Cats whipped the ball quickly from defence to attack and into the waiting arms of Trent Donnan for a pivotal piece of play.
Donnan was superb as he took the ball between wing and centre, ran around two Blues and calmly slotted it from inside 50 metres to bring the Cats within six points.
Beulah stalwart Scott Smith gave the Blues a much-needed lift with a bit of inspirational play of his own when his goal kept the Blues level with the Cats 10 minutes into the final term.
Woomelang-Lascelles showed a lot of poise as it weathered another Beulah storm and hit back with some firepower of its own.
A bit of individual magic by Aaron Lonergan deep on the boundary at half-forward was quickly followed by Ratcliffe’s third for the quarter and the Cats were away.
Their reward is a chance to try and defeat the Tigers in the grand final at Ouyen on Saturday.