Hepburn needed a big last quarter to thwart Buninyong in Sunday’s second preliminary final at Learmonth.
After a grinding afternoon in cold and windy conditions against a talented Bomber outfit, the Burras got over the line by 15 points to book their place in the Central Highlands Football League decider.
The Bombers led from the first ball-up when Jack Romeril kicked a running goal. Teammates Jaymes Gorman and Liam Rigby added to the scoreboard with majors that saw Buninyong lead by 14 points at the first change.
Gorman’s goal came after a 30m dash from a wing and ignited the Bomber fans.
Hepburn worked its way into the game in the second term, cutting Buninyong’s advantage to five points.
The Burras’ Jacob Brown kicked the only major in the third term to give his team a temporary two-point lead, before the scoreboard was locked up at the final change.
It was Hepburn veteran forward Lee Cox who rose to the occasion in the final quarter, booting the first and last goal. Jackson Hogan banged another major home as Buninyong struggled to answer the Hepburn challenge.
Mark Phelps slotted a goal half-way through the final term, but that was the only firepower Buninyong could muster.
It was Hepburn’s big guns - Cox with three majors and Brown and Hogan with two each - who took on the opposition. The Burras’ biggest assets were speedy Daniel Rees, unstoppable Segifili Asa Leausa, ruckman Michael Watt, backman Alan Ware and midfielder Brad McKay.
There is an injury concern with Jimmy Rodgers rested with a leg niggle.
Buninyong’s best included Jack Robertson, coach Jarrod Morgan, Lachlan Baker and Alex Bomitali.
For winning coach Jason Olver, the victory was a sweet one as Buninyong had beaten Hepburn in last year’s preliminary final.
“It’s been four years since we’ve been in a grand final. It’s been hard work to get there. And it’ll be against a side that was ranked number one - Beaufort. They’re going to be obviously the favourites. But we’ll give them a fair old crack and see how we go,” said Olver, who will step down from the helm at season’s end.
Morgan blamed “drop off in concentration and a lack of smart footy” as factors in his side’s fade out. “We held up well through the whole game to be honest. We had a lapse in concentration and went a bit flat. We had our opportunities.”
Hepburn last won the senior premiership in 2013 when it beat Buninyong in the grand final.