Barooga’s September run is over after a poor second half saw the Hawks no match for reigning Murray Football League premier Nathalia.
The Hawks couldn’t muster a goal after half-time, belted particularly in the third quarter with the Purples kicking five goals to zero.
It ended an impressive campaign which saw them knock out Echuca United and Moama on their way to the preliminary final, an improvement on last season’s semi-final loss.
Meanwhile, Nathalia booked a date with Numurkah in Saturday’s grand final, an opportunity for a third straight crown.
It was a disappointing end to a strong season, the Hawks’ dreams of a grand final and a first premiership since 1997 dashed by the powerful Purples.
Early in the contest Nathalia’s firepower shone through with four first-quarter goals.
Barooga remained in touch at the first break just 14 points down, but needed to lift to get the game back on its terms and nullify the dangerous opponent.
And lift the Hawks did, with 3.4(22) in the second quarter to be right in the picture at half-time, down just one goal.
But it wasn’t a contest after half-time; Nathalia took control in the key areas and piled on six goals for the half while Barooga could only manage three behinds.
The Purples’ defence was suffocating, allowing only rare chances for the opposition to score, clearly the catalyst for the second-half blowout.
The Hawks were 36 points down at the final break and needed a miracle to come back from there; it wasn’t forthcoming as the Purples extended the margin out to 41 points, winning 12.6(78) to 5.7(37).
Co-coaches Tyrone Downie and James Hazelman stood out as usual, while star ruckman Brodie A’Vard again produced a brilliant display.
But the heavy-lifting was left to too few, Nathalia’s balanced performance too much to overcome.
It ended another promising season for the Hawks, who finished in the top four for a fourth straight season with 14 wins.
Hazelman will again coach the side in 2017, and it’s hoped Downie will also re-commit to the club to have another crack at the ultimate success.