STRATFORD moved a step closer to its first East Gippsland football premiership, defeating Lindenow in the second semi-final.
The Swans got out to an early lead and were never headed, defeating the Cats comfortably at Bairnsdale on Saturday to advance to the grand final, 15.14 (104) to 9.5 (59).
Taking a 15-point lead into quarter-time, the Swans made their move in the second and third terms, booting eight goals to two to have the match in their keeping.
The Cats won the final term, kicking five goals to three, but left their run too late and will now have to defeat Wy Yung in the preliminary final to earn another shot at the Swans.
Jack Bacon and Pat Gordon continued their good form in front of goal, each booting four majors, while Stratford midfielders Lachlan Channing, Corey Scholtes, Jarryd Clohesy, Michael Walker and Joel Brayshaw were also prominent.
Matt Busch and Luke Schumann led the scoring for Lindenow, while David Donchi, Justin Blair, Todd Alexander and Will Blackley were among the Cats’ better players.
Stratford also won through to the reserves decider, defeating Lucknow in a contest that was close throughout, 9.7 (61) to 7.12 (54).
In a welcome sign for Stratford, Josh Kiss kicked two goals on his return.
Wy Yung easily accounted for Paynesville in the under 18s, 15.12 (102) to 8.4 (52), while Lakes Entrance defeated Orbost-Snowy Rovers in the under 16s, 9.7 (61) to 6.3 (39).
WY Yung edged reigning premier Paynesville in the first semi-final on Sunday to keep its season alive.
The Tigers led a close contest at Bairnsdale throughout to book a place in the preliminary final, passing the test in a danger game to win 13.8 (86) to 10.10 (70).
Mark Sellings and Thomas Smith kicked seven goals between them while Bryan Froud and Sam Denby-Blake set-up attacking moves from defence.
Keith Ritchie booted three goals for the Gulls, who were best served by Dale Turvey, David Ashworth and Jason McCloy.
Wy Yung also won the Reserves, defeating Lakes Entrance 11.13 (79) to 9.2 (56).
Orbost-Snowy Rovers defeated Lakes Entrance in the under 18s, 14.7 (91) to 6.7 (43).
The Tigers ensured a full preliminary final compliment with victory over Paynesville in the under 16s, 8.17 (65) to 5.5 (35).
Saturday at Bairnsdale City Oval:
Seniors: Lindenow v Wy Yung, 2.15pm.
Reserves: Lucknow v Wy Yung, 12.30pm.
Under 18s: Paynesville v Orbost-Snowy Rovers, 10.45am.
Under 16s: Orbost-Snowy Rovers v Wy Yung, 9am.