Finley found solace in restricting Barooga’s attacking power in round 14 of the Murray League, despite going down by 87 points at home on Saturday.
It was a much better result for the Cats, who went down to the Hawks by 288 points when the two sides met earlier this season.
Barooga got off to a flying start, kicking 6.3 with Finley managing just 0.2 for the first term.
The Cats showed some resistance in the second term, containing the Hawks to 4.4 while scoring 3.2 in what was an even quarter.
After conceding another six goals in the third term, Finley found themselves down by 75 points at three quarter time, Barooga taking a wave of momentum into the last stanza.
But the Cats continued to fight, and poor goalkicking by the Hawks meant they could only extend their margin by 12 points.
It was Finley’s experienced players in captain Lachy Small (one goal), vice captain Shaun Kable and recruit Tim Meulendyks who stood up for their side.
Kyle Russell continued his consistent season with an impressive showing, while defender David Conrick cut off plenty of Barooga attacks.
Josh Allen played his best game of the year and Charlie Hawkins booted four out of the Cats’ five goals for the game.
For the visitors it was Jake Russell who was best afield, while Lucas Olson and Billy Andrew each kicked five goals.
Final score, Barooga 18.16 (124) to Finley 5.7 (37).
Finley coach Rob Daniel said he was again impressed with the improvement that was shown.
‘‘To take about 30 goals off the margin from round three is a big sign of improvement,’’ he said.
‘‘We were ecstatic with the effort put in for most of the game.
‘‘Unfortunately we did switch off a few times, and those lapses of about five minutes saw us concede three to four goals.
‘‘The goal was to show improvement and peg back those heavy margins and we did that on Saturday.’’
Daniel praised the efforts of his on-field leaders in Small and Kable, saying they were crucial in the much improved performance.
‘‘Smally was winning nearly all of his one on one contests throughout the day and gave us a bit of drive out of the middle,’’ he said.
‘‘Shaun (Kable) played on a wing and at half forward and took some strong marks throughout the game.
‘‘It was fantastic for these guys to step up in the absence of Will Robertson, Scott Jewell and Lachlan Hawkins.
‘‘If we had those three blokes in as well, then we could’ve challenged Barooga a bit more.’’
Finley will now travel to take on reigning premier Nathalia in what will be a challenging match.
The last time these sides met was in round four when the Purples won by 233 points.
Daniel was optimistic about the game despite the big difference between the sides earlier this year.
‘‘We seem to play well over there no matter where we are situated on the ladder,’’ he said.
‘‘They just came off a heavy loss so we might be catching them at the right time.
‘‘We’ll obviously be looking to try our best for a win but as long as we can continue to cut margins back then I’ll be happy with the effort.’’