SWAN Hill defeated Mallee Eagles convincingly but in the cold light of day they left Lalbert with nothing.
The Swans relied on Saturday's other Round 18 results to give them a shot at September glory but they didn't go their way.
For all their endeavour it was unfortunate that they missed an opportunity to play finals. In recent weeks they have been playing an exciting brand of football.
Missing four stars, the Mallee Eagles were by no means disgraced as they ran out the game manfully and were still running hard as the final siren rang the end to the season for their opponents.
The Eagles got away to a fine start slamming on three fine majors in the first stanza while the Swans had their fair share of the ball only to continue their wasteful kicking which had become a trademark of recent outings.
The sole coach in Bodean Alexander's absence, Tyson Mihocek was into the play early and was giving plenty of drive and covering plenty of ground.
Key forward Matt Batten was getting plenty of opportunities from Mihocek which he finished with aplomb.
Matt Wade was in everything for the Swans, feeding off the superiority of his ruckmen in Toby Thoolen and Cal Beasy who was playing his first game for a long time and was working his way into the action.
The second term was all the Swans as they had their turn travelling toward the Swan Hill end of the Lalbert Recreation Reserve which was favoured by a substantial south-westerly wind.
A six-goal quarter ensued for the visitors and in the wash up was probably the match winning term as Hugh Foott, Tim Ruffles and Cal Beasy slammed on two majors each.
With the wind in the third term, the Eagles were able to whittle away some of the deficit but still trailed by five points going into the final quarter without the wind advantage.
Xavier Moloney had taken a quarter to really find his feet but into the final term he was scintillating , full of run and displaying the amazing skills for which he is renowned , capping it all off with two clever goals.
The Eagles will have until next Sunday to gather their thoughts and prepare to battle it out on their home turf with Woorinen.
The Tigers also lost, so both are coming off defeats -- the gloves will be off and a fantastic battle should result.
The Swans will survive to fight another day and, with the improvement of many youngsters, and the dominance in their junior ranks, the future looks bright.