DOMINANT defence and slick ball movements combined to secure North Warrnambool Eagles' progression to the second week of finals.
The Eagles looked unstoppable in their elimination final at Koroit's Victoria Park yesterday, defeating Terang Mortlake 40-27 to set up a semi-final clash with Port Fairy next weekend.
After a fairly even first quarter, the Eagles soared in the second and continued to build across the remainder of the match.
Their full-court defensive pressure was outstanding and even though they kept at the Eagles, the Bloods couldn't break through after half-time.
Terang Mortlake got off to an good start, shooting the opening goal of the match and making swift, well-calculated passages of play.
It led early in the first term, but a late flurry from the Eagles helped them go into the first break two goals up, 8-6.
Eagles coach Sharon Kenna said their plan was to progressively build up across the first three terms, before running it home in the last.
"That's how it played out," Kenna said.
"They came out of the blocks really well, their ball movements was slick in the first quarter and our girls really had to find their feet.
"In the second quarter they built a bit more and after that they worked out where everybody needed to be."
The Eagles shot the first three goals of the second term and looked like a well-oiled machine as they passed the ball around swiftly.
They dominated at both ends of the court, with Rachael Ryan and Jordyn Billings proving a formidable combination in defence, while sisters Annie and Laura Blackburn were unstoppable in the goal ring.
Terang Mortlake goal attack Sharni Moloney and goal keeper Jess O'Connor took key intercepts late in the term, which were rewarded by the goalers, keeping the Bloods' chances alive to trail the Eagles 19-15 at the long break.
The Bloods were still in with a chance at the final break, trailing by six, but the Eagles dominated the fourth term, fending off strong pressure from O'Connor to add 13 goals while keeping the Bloods to seven. Kenna was full of praise for Billings, Ryan and Annie Blackburn post-match.
"Jordyn and Rachael's work rate was huge today. They were magnificent, they were my standouts," she said.
"The two goalers (Laura and Annie Blackburn) were really patient. We know Jess O'Connor likes the ball over the top so we were trying to be really patient with our passing.
"Annie is just amazing, She's the go-to girl. We know that and I'm sure the opposition do as well.
"We work it round and work it round to get it to Annie and she always delivers."
Kenna said the Eagles' pressure across the court was the key to the victory.
"Once we found our feet after the first quarter, we managed to get that pressure on so the defenders could do the pick-offs.
"Once we got that happening it all went in our favour," she said.
Terang Mortlake coach Pam Davis said despite disappointment with the result, she was "exceptionally proud" of her young side.
"We made a goal to make finals halfway through the season," Davis said.
"We got there. We're not 100 per cent satisfied with that, but we are proud we got there. Lookout next year.
"We had passages of really good play, but we panicked a bit, turned a few over. They capitalised on that."