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Railways' Kyle Smith slips past Mt Barker’s Devin Cooper on the wing.
Camera IconRailways' Kyle Smith slips past Mt Barker’s Devin Cooper on the wing. Credit: Laurie Benson

Railways have overcome a stiff challenge from Mt Barker to secure their sixth grand final appearance in the past decade, kicking the last goal of the game to keep a surging Bulls outfit at bay in Sunday’s seesawing preliminary final at Tigerland.

The Tigers will be chasing their first premiership since 2013 when they face a red-hot Royals in this Sunday’s Great Southern Football League grand final, their tense 14-point win enough to set up a fifth encounter between the fierce rivals this season.

The Bulls led by five points at quarter-time before the home side took control and at one stage in the third quarter, the margin had ballooned to a game-high 34 points.

However, the Bulls dug deep to reduce the deficit to 22 points by the last change and then kicked the first two goals of the last term to make it single figures and set up a nervous final few minutes for the Tigers.

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A sealer from Kane Shephard would keep the Bulls at bay, sending his team into the final week of the season.

The result means the Tigers will be in successive grand finals and their third in the past five seasons. Coach Troy Leo was proud of his team’s response after they lost the second semifinal. “Credit to Mt Barker — they just kept coming,” he said.

“From where we were at the end of the home-and-away season, we’ve had two really good games of hard footy that should have us in good nick for the grand final.

“Our midfield is a pretty proud group and they responded well after the semi, and all our kids stood up.”

The Tigers dropped four players in the wake of their loss to the Lions in the second semifinal and will be sweating on the fitness of captain Bodhi Stubber, who injured his ribs in third term and took no further part.

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