GALLERY: The Gympie Cats are in the Grand Final
AUSSIE RULES: The Gympie Cats are just one step away from completing a remarkable Cinderella story after reaching the AFL Wide Bay grand final with a 10-point win over the Hervey Bay Bombers on Saturday.
A second-quarter surge gave the clinical Cats a 42-point buffer at the half, proving too much for the Bombers despite a late momentum swing.
Last year saw Gympie and Pomona anchored to the bottom of the ladder, but coach Courtney Findlay has rallied the merged Cats to claim the first of two grand final spots in his first year at the helm.
MORE AFL WIDE BAY COVERAGE
"It was great to get over the line, we've put in a lot of hard work this season and we can't wait to sink our teeth into the next two weeks,” Findlay said.
"It was quite an even contest, but our midfield was dominant at times and our back six have improved their structure really well late in the season.
"They (Bombers) fought back well, they're a good side, but we've gone through a lot of challenges this year and things are starting to come to fruition.”
The minor premiers took Saturday's game further north to Bundaberg in a futile attempt to increase Gympie's travel time and defuse their six-game winning streak, which became seven with the 13.8 (86) to 11.10 (76) victory.
The Cats will now enjoy a week off while the Bombers and elimination final-winning Power contest a fourth Battle of the Bay to determine the other spot in the decider.
"Our preparation will stay strong, we'll add another training session this Saturday morning and twice again next week before the game,” Findlay said.
The coach will be joined by a selection of senior Cats players in attending the Bombers-Power clash to analyse both potential opponents.
He said the proposition of travelling to the Bombers' home ground at Norm McLean Oval for the grand final would not rattle his troops.
"We're happy to go there, we'll play anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
Gympie has played twice at Norm McLean Oval this season, beating the Bombers on both occasions.
Qualifying Final - Saturday, August 18
Gympie Cats 13.8 (86) defeated Hervey Bay Bombers 11.10 (76) at Frank Coulthard Oval.
Best Players: J. Lawrence, B. Rowlands, L. Magin, J. Cross, K. Rowlands, S. Stiefler
Stay tuned to The Gympie Times for special Cats Grand Final coverage next week.