North Albury produced a finals-like performance on Saturday to book a T20 grand final berth against Lavington.
North was away to fierce rivals Wodonga, but skittled the home outfit for only 104 from 19 overs.
The visitors cruised to a five-wicket win with 2½ overs left.
“We looked at it as a do-or-die match, every time you play Wodonga you have to play your best and full credit to the boys, we bowled and fielded pretty well,” captain Ash Borella said.
North had the ideal start when Tim Hartshorn bowled the form batsman of the opening months in Tom Johnson with the first ball of the match.
“I just had a spur of the moment decision to bring Tim Hartshorn on, he’s a left-arm offie (off-spinner), he slid one straight through and knocked him over,” Borella said.
It was Johnson’s first bat since he became the only player to post a provincial ton this season against North on November 17.
The former South Australian Country all-rounder then had surgery on his ankle.
Fellow star Robbie Jackson followed shortly after for just seven, again to Hartshorn.
Jack Craig was Wodonga’s only star to make an impact, top-scoring with 27 from 21 balls, with three boundaries.
Wodonga hit only eight fours, Dan Dixon chipping in with two in his 20.
Hartshorn finished with 2-18, while George McCormick (2-16), Greg Daniel (2-26) and Brandon Purtell (2-30) all chipped in.
“To hold Wodonga to that is a credit to all our bowlers on the day,” Borella said.
Borella and Ben Paddle posted a 38-run opening stand, but North lost 3-0 to fall to 4-56.
Brendan Simmons, one of the association’s in-form batsmen prior to Christmas, fell for five, while the further loss of Paddle (17) and Hartshorn (nought) handed Wodonga hope.
But a patient Callum Langlands (20 not out) and handy knocks from Daniel (16) and Tom Hemsley (10no) saw the team home comfortably.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, we bat from one to 11,” Borella said.
North’s win guarantees a re-match of the association’s 2017-18 grand final.
Premiers Lavington booked its place with a 26-run win over East Albury at the small Scots School Albury ground.
Opener Daryl Tuffey hit his second successive half-century, blasting six boundaries and five sixes in the 7-180.
Kris Milosta struck 92.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here