A late-season surge has seen Wyong Lakes storm into the Black Diamond Cup play-offs for 2018, claiming the final spot in the top seven with a third straight must-win result.
In a virtual semi, the Magpies defeated hosts Gosford by 48 points in the last-round encounter at Adcock Park on Saturday and in doing so slipped past challengers the Tigers on the overall standings.
The opponents finished their campaigns level on percentages (37.50), with a 6-10 win-loss ratio, but Wyong Lakes (-201) had a much superior for-and-against record than Gosford (-603).
This latest outcome, Wyong Lakes 17.11 (113) overpowering Gosford 9.11 (65), means the Magpies stay alive for another weekend while the Tigers are now finished for the year.
Wyong Lakes meet second-placed Cardiff in an elimination fixture at Don Small Oval on Sunday having turned around an eight-game losing streak to beat Maitland, Lake Macquarie and then Gosford on the run home and qualify for the finals.
In round 18 the Magpies posted strong first and third quarters, booting six and seven majors respectively while restricting the Tigers to one apiece in the same terms.
Justin McPhan and Lee Moore led the way for the visitors, kicking nine goals between them.
Thomas Paavola added three six-pointers for Gosford, who had only two less scoring shots than Wyong Lakes at the main break.
The Magpies led by 32 at half-time, extending the margin to 71 in the next quarter.
Elsewhere and minor premiers Terrigal Avoca 10.13 (73) wrapped up the regular season with a 21-point win against Newcastle City 7.10 (52) at No.1 Sportsground on Saturday.
The visiting Panthers, who earn the first weekend off finals, had Brandon Thomas kick five goals while City’s Matt Enright landed a major in his 250th game for the club.
Blues player Conor Haswell has been put on report and was given a yellow card after an early collision with Terrigal’s Jack Grimmond, who left the field injured.
Week one of the semis has third-placed Newcastle drawn to face sixth-placed Killarney Vale at Maitland this Saturday.
Killarney Vale 12.16 (88) accounted for Nelson Bay 6.11 (47) at Dick Burwell Oval on Saturday with Brendan Lewis registering four goals.
Warners Bay, who meet fourth-placed Singleton in Muswellbrook this Saturday, remain fifth on the competition ladder even though the Bulldogs 8.10 (58) went down to Cardiff 10.16 (76) at Hillsborough Oval.
Maitland 15.8 (98) came from behind and held off wooden spooners Lake Macquarie 12.12 (84) at Max McMahon Oval despite six majors from Dockers gun Christopher McKay
Singleton had the bye.
SEMI-FINALS: Newcastle City (3) v Killarney Vale (6) at Maitland on Saturday; Singleton (4) v Warners Bay (5) at Muswellbrook on Saturday; Cardiff (2) v Wyong Lakes (7) at Wyong on Sunday.