The Benalla All Blacks have done it.
They broke a 22-year grand final hoodoo when they defeated Tarrawingee in Saturday’s Ovens and King Football League second semi-final.
Reigning premier Tarrawingee was outclassed and outrun against Harry Moran’s men at its own ground.
The 17.11 (113) to 14.6 (90) success put the Panthers in their first grand final in 22 years.
Moran admitted it was a surprise his side stood up so well in the situation, but the come-from-behind victory was its best result all season.
‘‘We have spent a long time on the bottom, it’s our first grand final in more than 20 years ... they stood up when it counted and we won the match,’’ Moran said.
‘‘In the third quarter we could’ve dropped our heads when we went a few goals down, but we turned it on and we’re absolutely stoked.’’
The Panthers were three goals down at three-quarter-time, but in a mammoth effort rescued the win after an inspired team talk from Moran.
‘‘What we were looking to do was reset and start the game again at three-quarter-time, basically,’’ Moran said.
‘‘I told them we had one quarter left to get us into the final, or a half that we waste and have to play again this weekend.
‘‘I asked for more from them. It would have been so demoralising to lose, but every single bloke stood up and contributed, and that was fantastic to see.’’
Moran put his side’s comeback down to better fitness, and being used to having to fight for a result.
‘‘We were just fitter, we ran them out in the last,’’ he said.
‘‘We planned pretty hard for this game, and we made sure we knew the ins and outs of their game — they haven’t really had a game where they have been challenged, apart from against Glenrowan.
‘‘We knew if it was tight, we would have a good chance of outrunning them in the final quarter.
‘‘They hadn’t had a game like that all year, whereas we’d been challenged like that throughout the year.’’
Moran said he was looking forward to having the week off to rest before the big dance on Saturday next week
‘‘Glenrowan will be the side we face, I think. Tarra’s leading goalkicker (Justin Hoggan) broke his hand against us, and I think another of their guys is out with broken ribs,’’ Moran said.