STAWELL is through to the A Grade preliminary final following a nail-biting 46-44 extra-time win over Horsham RSL Diggers at Dimboola Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
The two sides were tied at 40-apiece after the final whistle, with two further five-minute quarters played to break the deadlock.
Stawell coach Liza Cook said her side again struggled in the second quarter, with a 10-goal turnaround giving the Diggers a half-time lead.
"We really need to put in a four-quarter effort this week," she said.
"The Diggers came out firing and they played so well anyone could have won it.
"They're always a strong side and we were lucky to come away with a win."
Cook paid tribute to defensive pair Tracey Dark and Emma Henry on their match-winning performances.
"Tracey had a stellar game from that first whistle she was jumping, taking intercepts and winning the ball for us," she said.
"She and Emma were literally our last line in defence and gave us those extra opportunities."
Horsham RSL Diggers coach Chris O'Connell described the match as a rollercoaster ride, with plenty of twists and turns.
"It was a hard contested match and the score was up and down," she said.
"It was anyone's game all day."
O'Connell was gutted with the loss, but said she could not be prouder of her girls' efforts. "I reckon we would have gone all the way if we got over the line on Sunday," she said.
Polly Hammerton and Ema Iredell were the Diggers' standouts, both defending well.
Stawell plays arch-rivals Ararat at Alexandra Oval on Sunday for a grand final spot, while the curtain has been drawn on the Diggers' season.
The Rats defeated the Warriors by one goal in a thriller last time the two sides met in the first week of finals, and Cook expects another hard-fought contest.