The challenge was laid out for the Dragons following their disappointing Qualifying Final loss last week.
Crack in or go home.
And crack in is exactly what they did in convincing style over Calder, winning 8.7 (55) to 1.12 (18) at Ikon Park and setting up a blockbuster Preliminary Final with rivals Oakleigh.
In slippery conditions and an arm-wrestle unfolding early, it was Hugo Ralphsmith who provided the spark to kickstart Sandringham’s finals campaign.
Three goals in the opening term playing as a deep forward sounded alarm bells for the Cannons and ultimately proved a hurdle too big to overcome.
Finn Maginness (32 disposals and a goal) and Ryan Byrnes (32 disposals) dominated through midfield and set the game up from the first bounce with the help of ruckman Andrew Courtney, who played one of his best games of the season.
Angus Hanrahan (32 disposals and a goal) and Louis Butler (25 disposals) were also prolific and continued their strong run of form.
Dragons coach Josh Bourke said the team is “pretty excited” for their date with Oakleigh in the prelim following the triumphant victory.
“The best thing today was playing our way which we went away from a bit last week,” he said.
“A number of boys stepped up and played probably close to their best games of the year so that was really pleasing.
“When we give the opposition the chance to play their game, we’re not so good, but when we think less and just execute and back ourselves, we’re very good.
“I thought our pressure was really good all day, I know the tackle numbers didn’t reflect it but they felt under pressure most of the game which is really beneficial to the way we want to set up. That’s a huge tick.”
Sandringham last met Oakleigh in the final round of the home and away season in one of the games of the year where the Chargers overcame a five-goal deficit to snatch victory at the death.
Saturday’s preliminary final winner will play either Gippsland or Eastern in the NAB League Grand Final.
Goal Kickers: H. Ralphsmith 3, J. Mifsud, A. Hanrahan, B. O''Leary, O. Lord, F. Maginness Best Players: H. Ralphsmith, A. Hanrahan, R. Byrnes, C. Dean, F. Maginness, A. Courtney