The venue, conditions and footballers were all primed for a big contest with the ball moving around the park with great speed.
After a series of misses by both teams Finley was on the board with a major after six minutes.
Mulwala’s onballers were cracking in on the contest to force the ball forward but opportunities were hard to manufacture.
Nathan Parker was proving to be a handful up forward with his height and marking power difficult to manage.
The two teams had settled into a bit of a rhythm through the middle of the quarter with both teams struggling to score.
Jackson managed one for Finley and excellent forward pressure saw Anthony Guiliano rewarded with a goal.
Mulwala’s attack on the ball lifted a notch as the term wore on and the Mulwala forwards reaping the benefits.
Guiliano was finding plenty of space and had too much pace for his direct opponent. Anthony’s second goal of the term showed he was back to his usual form which was a concern for Finley.
Lucas Olsen and Dan Clarke were giving Mulwala’s mid fielders’ first use of the ball and they were doing a good job with the clearances.
Sean Robinson, Dean Bigger and Thomas Wilson were sharing the ball well to get the ball flowing Mulwala’s way.
Jackson Weir was cutting through the lines with his speed and also the space Michael Duiker was finding was helping to set up scoring moves for Mulwala.
Chase was continuing to lead hard and things started to open up for him in the second term.
Mulwala were dominating the possession around the ground but missed chances meant they weren’t as dominant on the scoreboard.
On the other hand Finley, off limited opportunities, were able to keep in touch which is a worry in finals.
The running of Tom Beams, Michael Duiker, Jackson Weir and Tom Wilson was giving Mulwala plenty of the ball but the points were the main result.
A roving goal to Chase Strawhorn finally broke the run of points for Mulwala.
Mulwala’s backline was holding strong with excellent shut down work being done by Nick O’Bryan, Keegan Oliver and Josh Slattery.
There was plenty of rebound attack coming from Jackson Weir, Jackson Gash and Tom Beams.
Finley had been held to three majors for the half but the margin should have been more in Mulwala’s favour with more accurate kicking for goals.
Mulwala opened the third term with a goal to Michael Duiker off the good clearance work of Tom Wilson.
Finley responded with a goal to Little John to cut the lead once again.
The early scores seemed to spark Mulwala into action with Wilson, Weir and Duiker really lifting the work rate.
Cam Symes was providing a handy target across half forward marking strongly and covering a lot of ground.
Kegan Oliver was doing some strong work across half back to minimise Finley’s scoring opportunities.
Finley continued to attack hard off a series of turnovers but a run of points were to Mulwala’s advantage.
The determination to keep the ball locked in the forward fifty finally paid off with successive goals to Sean Robinson and Michael Duiker late in the term.
Tom Beam’s ability to run and carry really opened Finley up along the wing.
This enabled Mulwala to be well in charge at the final break.
Tom Beams started the last term with a strong contested mark and returned the ball into the fifty for Arch and Duiker to combine for a team lifting goal.
Lucas Olson’s dominance at the tap outs forced the ball forward once again for Sean Robinson to kick Mulwala’s 12th goal.
Finley responded with two goals in a row to breathe life into the contest.
Matt Jackson was able to kick Finley’s eighth mid way through the final term and it was game on.
Mulwala started to make mistakes with the ball when coming out of defence and Finley capitalised.
A super snap by Jackson got Finley closer and the momentum was all with Finley.
Mulwala’s chances to goal had dried up as Finley charged with the Mulwala back line under extreme pressure.
The back six were standing up well and the break finally came when Parks marked and goaled to put the game beyond doubt.
Mulwala had to work right until the final siren but had managed to earn the right to challenge for the Premiership.
They will go into next week’s decider against Echuca United at Tocumwal in what looms as a cracking contest between two quality teams.
Go Lions 2013.
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