The Border Bullets' dream of making it back to the SCG was shattered on Sunday.
Having set up a winner-takes-all clash against ACT Aces by seeing off Wagga Sloggers at Lavington Sports Ground, the Bullets needed 128 to reach the Regional Bash final.
But the Albury-Wodonga representative side slumped to 93 all out, leaving co-coach Trent Ball to wonder what might have been.
"It's pretty disappointing," Ball said after the game.
"We played so well last week against Murrumbidgee, this morning against Wagga and we wanted to keep ACT under 130, which we did, but we couldn't get the job done with the bat.
"Chasing sometimes in those games is really hard.
"One bad hour costs you the game in T20 because you can't make it up, like you would in a longer format.
"It's disappointing to get so close: win that game and you're at the SCG, lose and you're out."
Dave Tassell (3-20) finished with eight wickets for the day and Ryan Brown claimed 2-29 as the Bullets limited ACT's ability to hit boundaries, although crucially they kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos through the middle overs.
Their power hitters failed to fire, with only Liam Scammell (27) and marquee player Andrej Yaksender (21) posting a score of note.
Winners of this competition last season, the Aces' bowling attack was relentless, with Mark Solway (5-20) leading the charge.
"We fielded and bowled really well but we chewed up too many singles," Ball said.
"We missed a lot of ones and twos and no-one could really get going to put the pressure back on ACT.
ALSO IN SPORT
"All the pressure was on us, for every batter who went out there, and that told in the end."
Ball admitted there was a twinge of regret after such an anticlimactic end to the Bullets' campaign.
"I think we're pretty even, we'd go five-and-five with ACT over 10 games," he said.
"It's just unfortunate one of those five was today.
"But it's been great working with this group.
"We left Jack Gilbee out today, he was picked but I changed it last night and he understood.
"Everyone's attitude and commitment has been fantastic."
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