THEY spell their first names differently, but it was the late dominance of Cooper Sharman and Coopa Steele which propelled Leeton-Whitton to a 12.15 (87) to 5.16 (46) preliminary final win over Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong at Robertson Oval on Saturday.
Despite being woefully wasteful in front of goal, the Lions closed to within five points of the Crows at the final change and looked to have all the momentum in general play.
But it was Leeton-Whitton's youngsters who snuffed out the comeback, with Steele booting all three of his goals in the last term, while Sharman nailed two of his three in quick succession to put the result to bed.
Sharman showed why he was considered unlucky to be overlooked in last year's AFL Draft, with his clean hands and ability to mark the ball at the highest point making him almost impossible to stop.
The Lions dominated the third quarter and despite nice finishes from Zac Burhop, Sam Murray and Liam Delahunty, squandered a chance to get on top by kicking 3.7 for the term.
Leeton-Whitton's on-ball brigade, led by Jeromy Lucas and Lucas Meline, got on top in the final term and Sharman and Steele reaped the dividends.
The Crows will face Wagga Tigers in next week's grand final, where they will look to reverse a three point loss to them in last week's major semi.
Crows coach Daniel Muir said he spoke to his charges about making their opportunity count next week after a number of quality locals returned to the club this year after higher level leagues were cancelled due to COVID-19.
It may also be Muir's last hurrah for the club after recently handing over the coaching reins to Sam Darley as he considered a return to Tasmania.
"We spoke about it before that the 22 playing today, it's potentially going to be our last game together (next week)," Muir said.
"The guys playing at a higher level are always going to go back and play there, it's a chance for everyone to create some history for the town.
"Cooper Sharman and Coopa Steele were great and stood up in big moments. I was pleased for those two boys. Who knows (what they can do), the world's their oyster but we're just focused on next week now.
Ryan Dunn, Bryce O'Garey and ruckman Mason Dryburgh all had a big impact on the game, while Coolamon recruit Delahunty was strong on senior debut for the Lions with two goals.
Lions coach Christin Macri said they only had themselves to blame for squandering a number of chances to put scoreboard pressure on the minor premiers.
"In a game of footy you have to take your opportunities, and we couldn't do it," he said.
"We put a lot of energy into taking momentum into the third quarter and being ahead, but we couldn't quite get there.
"I was quite confident we could keep going (at three quarter time) but we lost that momentum, then you lose that hope of winning and the margin blows out.
"We really made a conscious push to have the pressure up the field and that dropped away. They dominated the centre in the last quarter and they're a quality team, they deserved their win."
AFL RIVERINA CHAMPIONSHIP - PRELIMINARY FINAL
LEETON-WHITTON 2.1 4.4 6.8 12.15 (87) def GGGM 1.4 1.8 4.15 5.16 (46)
GOALS: Leeton-Whitton - Cooper Sharman 3, Coopa Steele 3, Bailey Wood 2, Jade Hodge 2, Mitch Hardie, Ryan Dunn; GGGM - Liam Delahunty 2, Sam Murray, Louis Miller, Zac Burhop.
BEST: Leeton-Whitton - Jeromy Lucas, Lucas Meline, Cooper Sharman, Ryan Dunn, Bryce O'Garey, Coopa Steele; GGGM - Curtis Steele, Jacob Olsson, Liam Delahunty, Thomas Quinn, Matt Hamblin, Matt Neagle.