Wodonga Raiders have been the heartbreak story.
When they snapped a 44-match losing streak against New City in early October, the club had its biggest buzz in years.
Since then, they’ve lost nine close games.
Tallangatta scored a three-wicket last-over win on Saturday while, in other instances, Raiders fell to premiers Lavington by seven runs and North Albury produced a 74-run eighth-wicket stand.
Tallangatta captain-coach Matt Armstrong says Bushies’ paceman Sam Stephens is targeting all-rounder status.
“Part of the plan this year was to promote him and he batted at three against St Patrick’s,” Armstrong said.
“As he’s becoming a more senior player we’re giving him more responsibility and he’s someone who will probably succeed me as captain hopefully one day.
“He’s very much one of the most underrated players in the competition, I enjoy being his captain because I know what I’m going to get.”
North Albury off-spinner Tim Hartshorn made an impressive comeback against Wodonga, snaring the crucial wickets of Tom Johnson and Robbie Jackson.
Hartshorn played only second grade this season until the end of November.
“Tim had a freak injury, he tore the ligaments in his ankle, so he’s coming back from injury,” captain Ash Borella said.
“The first part of the season he was trying to get back in and see if he can do it (play to the best of his ability), but he’s fit enough and slotted straight back.”
Wodonga’s Martin Park will host the T20 grand finals on January 27.
It will be a bumper day with around nine hours of action.
Provincial second grade will start from 10am, with an exhibition game between CAW District and CAW Hume to follow.
Lavington and North Albury will contest the provincial first grade decider from 4pm.
The pair met in the association’s last grand final, but rain ruined the 80-over clash with Lavington taking the title as minor premiers.
One of the T20 grand finalists will complete an undefeated season in the shortened form.
North and Lavington have five wins heading into the decider.
St Patrick’s have shown their improvement in finishing third, while Wodonga slipped from being favourites to make the grand final to fourth.
The T20 ladder was: North Albury (5-0), Lavington (5-0), St Pat’s (3-2), Wodonga (3-2), Tallangatta (2-3), East Albury (2-3), Belvoir (2-3), Wodonga Raiders (1-4), Albury (1-4) and New City (1-4).
CAW’s return to O’Farrell Cup hit another hurdle on Sunday when West Wyalong forfeited.
It was the second forfeit the Border association had received after Cootamundra on December 9.
CAW toppled Holbrook on December 2 and then smashed Ardlethan-Barellan a fortnight later.
But after a slow start, the Cup bounces back to life on Sunday against Temora.
CAW’s leading wicket-taker David Tassell will play for his home town in a strong attack with fellow quicks Nick Grant and Max Harper.
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