In the first three rounds of the 2019 season, the Crookwell Dogs started about as poorly as possible with three losses.
However, coach Bruce Nixon's faith in his team did not waiver.
The improvement was there, he said. Week in, week out, the team was getting better.
By round four, expectations had sunk. Up against the Bungendore Mudchooks, the runners-up from the 2018 grand final, hope was dwindling.
However, a one-point win in that game kick-started a shocking reversal in form for the Dogs, which saw them win 11 of their next 14 matches.
The faith that Nixon showed early in the season was more than repaid on Saturday, when Crookwell played what he described as "as good a 40 minutes as we've played all year" to win the major semi-final against the Taralga Tigers, 12-14, in Taralga.
In a game which was marked by freezing temperatures, intermittent snow, and constant penalties, the Dogs rebounded from an even first half to dominate the second.
Trailing 9-6 at the break, Crookwell crossed over for the first and only try of the game thanks to a grinding effort from Riley Martin shortly after play re-started.
Throughout the latter 40 minutes of the match, the Dogs were incessant. It wasn't necessarily pretty football, but it was relentless, pressurised play which suffocated the Tigers and starved them of possession.
This, Nixon said, is what the Dogs are capable of with their best team on the park. And he expects more of the same in the grand final, as Crookwell came through on Saturday without any major injuries.
"Today is the first time we've probably had our best 15 on the paddock all year," he said.
"Talking to the boys, they went the distance. Our players that came off the bench had their impact, so we're going to be fresh."
Nerves were rattled when Taralga had a penalty goal attempt after the final whistle. One referee paid the goal, while the other did not, and the on-field official decided against awarding the three points which would have given the Tigers the win.
The grand final will take place on August 24 at Crookwell Memorial Oval, and the Dogs will play the winner of the preliminary final between Taralga and the Jindabyne Bushpigs.