From The Age
Reported by Brent Diamond
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NORTHERN Bullants have become the competition's sleeping giants with a 29-point upset win over Williamstown in yesterday's qualifying final earning a shock preliminary final berth.

Box Hill Hawks overcame an early James Podsiadly onslaught to win comfortably against Geelong by 34 points in the first elimination final and set up a semi-final against Port Melbourne on Sunday.

However, the Bullants have crept from fourth to third and now to a preliminary final in the past fortnight, with returns to come from Cameron Cloke, Jeff Garlett and Shaun Grigg to add further seasoned bodies to their September mix.

"I wouldn't go as far to say I'm surprised [with the result] but we knew it was going to be a tough game with Willy at home," said coach David Teague. "The way we've played over the last eight weeks, I came in quietly confident that if we can play the game to our terms we'd be in with a real show.''

Teague said the Bullants now had a genuine crack at the flag after the 11.12 (78) to 6.13 (49) win.

"We've given ourselves a chance to now … we've still got to be able to deliver the next time we step out on to the field," he said.

Conversely, Williamstown has continued to suffer the finals curse that has haunted it in recent times.

The second-best team in the competition for the home and away season now faces a cut-throat semi-final against the in-form Collingwood on Saturday after being torn to shreds on its home turf.

"It's very disappointing and very frustrating for a team to come out and do what they did to Port Melbourne last week and then go out like that today," said coach Brad Gotch.

The Bullants strangled the Seagulls forward line with Stephen Browne and Adam Hartlett curbing Matt Little and Patrick Rose.

Box Hill Hawks have unveiled their X-factor the finals series, with Hawthorn forward Mark Williams adding polish to the Hawks' 17.19 (121) to 13.9 (87) win yesterday.

Williams had 13 disposals and his only goal came half-way through the final term, but he created plenty.

"What he brings is not only a quality player but also some leadership around the young blokes," said Hawks coach Brendon Bolton.

Despite Podsiadly looking lively with the first three goals, the Hawks settled after quarter-time with Tim Walsh having a superb game in the ruck. Sam Iles (24 touches) and Ed Curnow (23) also performed well.

''Our tackle pressure I thought was outstanding and probably the best for a long time," Bolton said.

First Qualifying Final
North Ballarat 15.8 (98)
Port Melbourne 6.14 (50)

Second Elimination Final
Collingwood 26.21 (177)
Casey Scorpions 9.8 (62)

First Elimination Final
Box Hill 17.19 (121)
Geelong 13.9 (87)

Second Qualifying Final
Northern 11.12 (78)
Williamstown 6.13 (49)

Second Semi-final
Williamstown v Collingwood
Saturday 1.10pm at TEAC Oval

First Semi-final
Port Melbourne v Box Hill Hawks
Sunday 1.10pm at TEAC Oval