It was an old school case of the hunters up against the hunted.
And on Saturday afternoon in Ballarat, it was the Ranges who assumed the role of the hunters.
The 1 v 4 NAB League Qualifying Final saw Eastern victorious, running out 7.10 (52) to 5.8 (38) winners.
A three-goal-to-one second quarter against the breeze ultimately clinched the game for the top-of-the-table Ranges, in a bizarre contest where both sides managed to kick more goals kicking against the wind than with it.
It was the tale of the day for the Dragons. Wasted opportunities with momentum on their side and clinical finishing - often against the run of play - down the other end proved too big a hurdle to overcome.
Sandringham were able to lift in the second half on the back of leaders Ryan Byrnes and Corey Watts, but were unable to erase the deficit.
Watts’ move to the ruck following Jack Bell’s injury proved savvy as the key defender injected much-needed brutality and size in the contest, while Byrnes’ relentless ball-winning (28 disposals) kept the Dragons in the game.
“They were both terrific and it showed that they’re competitors – not that we needed much of a reminder about that. On a day where we were looking for kids to compete they certainly did,” Dragons coach Josh Bourke said.
Jake Bowey played well again and provided a spark. Nick Burke competed all day. Darcy Chirgwin fought hard inside. Miles Bergman provided some highlights and Fischer McAsey defended strongly.
It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Dragons but much improvement is needed if they are to lift the inaugural NAB League trophy.
A semi-final date with Calder now awaits on Saturday at Ikon Park.
Bourke believes the key to going deep in the finals will be maintaining their identity when things aren’t going their way.
"Just responding when we get challenged – not going into our shell and still playing the way we can,” he said.
“Watching the vision, we probably went a bit away from the way we play and a bit defensive. We need to keep our identity as a team and play our way.”
Sandringham and Calder last met in Round 1, where the Dragons won convincingly.