STRATFORD will enter the East Gippsland football finals series in winning form, comfortably accounting for Lakes Entrance in round 19.
A five-goal second quarter set up the 13.19 (97) to 10.6 (66) win.
The Swans opened up a 14-point lead at quarter-time, but the Seagulls hit back in the second quarter with three goals to one to close the gap to six points after a low scoring first-half.
Stratford made its move in the third term, booting five goals to the Seagulls’ three to set up a handy 21-point buffer at three-quarter-time.
Jack Bacon kicked three goals in a best-on-ground performance for the Swans, while Josh Kiss made a return to form in front of goal, also booting three majors.
Corey Scholtes made a welcome return to the Stratford side, while Kaine Kerton, Nathan Channing, Lewis Bolton and David McLay continued their good run of form.
Relying on Orbost-Snowy Rovers to keep Paynesville in check to win the double chance, the Gulls were big winners over the hapless Blues to leapfrog the Swans into second.
The Swans will meet Lindenow in a do or die first semi-final this Sunday.
Cats claw finals place
A STRONG opening quarter helped Lindenow account for Wy Yung to advance to the finals.
The Cats kept the Tigers scoreless in the first term, while adding six goals of their own.
Facing a seven-goal deficit at three-quarter-time following a torrid half of football with just five goals scored between the sides, the Tigers won the final quarter, adding three goals to the Cats’ two behinds, but the deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
Luke Schumann kicked four goals for Lindenow, while Mathew Dick was the Cats’ best.
Chris Wheeler and Reagan Kyle were the Tigers’ best.
Paynesville too powerful
PAYNESVILLE secured the double chance with a huge win over Orbost-Snowy Rovers, 31.18 (204) to 8.10 (58).
The Gulls booted eight goals in the opening term to set up a 40-point quarter-time lead and were never headed, adding a further seven goals in the second quarter.
The carnage continued after the long break, with the Gulls adding six goals in the third term.
Extending the margin to three figures early in the final quarter, the Gulls didn’t let-up, ramming home 10 final quarter majors.
Bairnsdale-listed Mark Sellings kicked seven goals, with Aaron Cameron and Damien Ashcroft booting four majors each.
Derek Hayes booted two goals in his return to the side, with Ryan Holland and Adam Selleck leading the charge in the midfield.
Brad Young kicked three goals for the Blues, while Andrew Stanton, Hamish Nettleton and Brad McDonald did their best to stem the tide.
MINOR premier Lucknow had the bye.
EGFNL finals draw, week one
First semi-final, Sunday at Bairnsdale City Oval:
Seniors: Stratford v Lindenow, 2pm.
Reserves: Lakes Entrance v Lindenow, noon.
Thirds: Lucknow v Stratford, 10am.