WEST Wyalong has maintained its unbeaten Group 20 record this season but not before surviving a late charge from the Waratahs Tigers to win 24-22 at Ron Crowe Oval on Sunday.
With the bye ahead of them in the final round, West Wyalong signed off from the regular season with its 16th but arguably toughest victory.
The Mallee Men seemingly had the match under control when they led 24-12 in the second half but a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes allowed the Waratahs back into the contest.
Two quick tries saw the Tigers set up a grandstand finish, the visitors looking certain to pinch the game in the final 10 seconds only for West Wyalong to knock down a pass that would have led to a certain try.
While his team wasn't at its clinical best, West Wyalong coach Rohan Loudon said the match provided the stern examination the Mallee Men were looking for before the finals.
"She was a tough old game that one," Loudon said after full-time.
"The boys were a bit flat at the start, but we had a good 25-minute period there in the second half when we got up.
"But then we made a few mistakes and if we didn't knock that ball down right at the end, they probably would've scored.
"They're a good side, Waratahs."
But so is West Wyalong, the club's depth exemplified by the fact its reserve grade side also finished the season undefeated.
Attention now turns to finals, but Loudon said the Mallee Men would take some time out to celebrate their achievements to date.
"We had a bit of an old boys' day out here, so we'll enjoy a few quiet beers," he said.
"It's about the finals now, but it's been a good achievement by the club (to win two minor premierships)."
While his side left West Wyalong without the points, Waratahs secretary Mark Jaffrey said the Tigers could take plenty of positives from their performance.
"It was important for the boys to show they could be competitive (with West Wyalong) and that's just what they did," he said.
West Wyalong 24
Waratahs Tigers 22