As both Central/Stirling and Quorn prepare to face off in the preliminary final, they went up against each other in a match that would not affect the final standings.
After losing four early wickets, Central turned the game on its head when Tom Baulderstone and Ryan Finlayson put on an 86-run partnership and guided their side to a four-wicket win.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Quorn soon realised the ETSA pitch may not have been as batsman-friendly as they had thought, as Roby McDonald and Cameron Edson began the innings with some unplayable deliveries.
Edson created a chance for Brendon Davis to catch Alex Hosking out in the second over of the match, but it was put down.
However, Davis made amends when he hung on to the next three chances he had to see the back of Kade Baker, Scott Williams and Hosking, leaving Quorn at 3/25.
After a rocky start, Quorn got things up and running due to a professionally-compiled partnership between Simon George and Corey Finlay.
Two of Quorn’s more experienced players had the task of providing their side with something to build on and they did just that in their 53-run stand that ended in the 27th over when Finlay was caught behind for 14.
Once Finlay was out, George followed suit when Orson Poole spun one past his bat and Lucas Hill completed the stumping to dismiss him for 38.
Once this partnership was broken, the Tigers began to get back on top with the next four wickets falling for 24 runs.
One of the more extraordinary pieces of play for the match came when off-spinner Poole pitched one outside the line of leg stump to Josh O’Donohue, which spun the wrong way and bowled him.
With Quorn at 9/103, Central looked to finish the innings off and begin the chase. However, the Tigers might’ve been thinking too far ahead, as Rob Britza and Cameron Finlay went on a tear, putting on 50 for the last wicket.
They got their side to a respectable 153, before Roby McDonald found the edge of Finlay for 17.
George top-scored with 38, while Britza’s 33 not out was vital in giving Quorn a chance of achieving a defendable score.
Orson Poole claimed the best bowling figures with 3/37, while Patrick Mardon, Cameron Edson and Roby McDonald combined for the other seven wickets.
With the game in the balance at the halfway point, the first 10 overs were crucial for both sides and it was Quorn who were the better of the two for this period.
Cameron Finlay carried on from his heroics with the bat and took the wicket of Toby Baxter for eight, and when Roby McDonald was adjudged out LBW, Central were 2/14.
Things didn’t get much better for the Tigers, as both Drew McDonald and Lucas Hill fell cheaply to leave them 4/34.
Batting certainly hasn’t been Central’s strength this season and it seemed as though it would cost them again when Tom Baulderstone strode out to the middle to join Ryan Finlayson.
However, the two stuck around for a while, and while Finlayson played the anchor role superbly, Baulderstone started to score freely.
He opened his account with a six and took a particular liking to the bowling of Simon George and Scott Williams, hitting four sixes before reaching 50.
While he was finding it difficult to pierce the gaps in the field, Finlayson was stubborn and didn’t show any signs of getting out.
Baulderstone hit two fours to bring up the team’s 100 and came in at the drinks break on 49. He brought up his first 50 of the season just after and then looked to lift the tempo. Baulderstone hit back-to-back sixes off Williams, but it took a full toss from the off spinner to end his innings on 62.
He had got Central right back in the game and given them a big chance at taking a win into the finals, but there was still some work to do for the last five batters.
Orson Poole didn’t contribute to the score before Williams sent him packing, but Brendon Davis replaced him and started to attack.
He raced to 27, and with Finlayson at the other end, hit a boundary to bring up the winning runs with four wickets and six overs to spare.
Central took the chocolates in the last minor round game, but they will have to back it up this weekend in the preliminary final.
Quorn will be looking to respond, as both sides will be out to book their spot in the Grand Final against South.
West Augusta v South Augusta
In their last hit-out before the Grand Final, South Augusta put together another dominant performance in their match against West.
After bowling the Hawks out for 136, South only needed three batsmen to get the job done, as Corey Cuffe lead the charge with 62 not out.
After their finals hopes were dashed last week, West had nothing but pride to play for in their final game of the season, but they hit an early road block when Aaron Vater continued his early wicket-taking form.
He disturbed Darcy Irvine’s castle in the third over of the game to leave West one wicket down for seven.
Mark Benbow took his place in the middle alongside the other opening batsman, Garth Burley, who took the loss of Irvine as a trigger to get things going and took eight runs off the next over.
Benbow followed suit with two boundaries of his own, but it was Burley playing as the aggressor, blasting his way to 19 in the first 11 overs.
However, he lost another partner when Benbow was out LBW off Clayton Parkinson for 10. Josh Dunstan was more than capable of taking his place and kept things going for West.
Dunstan and Burley put on a partnership worth 38 runs and included five fours, but within 12 balls, both of them had taken their pads off and were sitting back in the sheds.
First, Greg Shirley trapped Dunstan on the pads in front of the stumps and then Burley was caught in the slips off Craig Shirley.
The slump got worse for West when Jason McInerney was bowled by Greg Shirley for one and, all of a sudden, they were 5/74.
Dylan Cammarano was next to go when he was caught behind off Craig Shirley for nine, but the biggest partnership came when Russell Coulthard and Joel Coulthard joined each other at the crease. They put on 40 crucial runs in 10 overs, before Vater ended the stand, knocking Joel over.
Max Jenkins came and went in one ball and Vater was on a hat-trick, but couldn’t complete the three-peat. However, it mattered little as the final two wickets fell quickly and the Hawks lost their last four wickets for 12 to be bowled out for 136.
Vater was the pick of the bowlers with 3/27, while Ben Trewartha and both Shirley brothers all took two wickets each.
Burley was the highest individual scorer with 31, while Russell and Joel Couthard contributed with 28 and 23 respectively.
West had already shown they are capable of bowling South out cheaply this season and they were going to need to do it again to finish their season brightly.
Russell Coulthard and Darcy Irvine got things started with some tight bowling, restricting South’s openers Craig Shirley and Corey Cuffe to just six runs from the first five overs.
However, not much went West’s way from then on. Shirley and Cuffe lifted the run rate above 4.6 runs an over to cut the run rate in half by the 18th over.
West finally broke the opening stand with Josh Dunstan finding the edge of Shirley, who was caught by Mark Benbow for 48, but that was all they had to celebrate, as Cuffe and number three batsman Will Waterworth got South home with ease.
Cuffe passed 50 with three boundaries in five balls, as he and Waterworth attacked in their 58-run stand. Cuffe finished things off with his seventh four in a batting masterclass from the Bulldogs.
A nine-wicket win was exactly what South wanted heading into the big dance in a fortnight’s time, while West will have to wait until next summer to get their revenge on the Grand Final-bound Bulldogs.