South Tamworth pulled off a second preliminary final escape in as many years on Sunday to win through to their sixth consecutive Tamworth first grade grand final.
West Tamworth looked like snatching their first appearance in the decider since 2011 when, chasing 115 for victory, they were 5-102.
But as they had done in the first innings, Souths bowlers dragged them back from the brink as Wests lost 5-10 to be all out for 112.
It had shades of Souths’ four run win over Bective-East last year, and for more reasons than they would probably like with their batting again letting them down.
Batting first they limped their way to 96, skipper Tom Groth (18), Mitch Smith (12) and James Dunston (12) providing some late resistance after they were 6-48.
Skipper Tim Kensell led a brilliant bowling display from Wests with 4-14.
Their run chase then couldn’t have started off any worse with Tom O’Neill bowling Dave Mudaliar first ball of the innings. Next over Troy Osborne had Dan Collinson caught behind leaving Wests 2-2.
They scrambled to 4-39 at stumps, but were done and dusted within the first hour-and-a-half of play on Sunday. Angus McNeill struck the first blow removing Harrison Kelly in the second over of the day. From there the wickets tumbled regularly, Osborne knocking over Jeff Cook’s pegs to give Souths a 45 run lead.
Osborne finished with 3-17, McNeill 3-9 and O’Neill 4-25.
Any plans they had of batting Wests out of the game though were quickly scuppered as Brendon Reynolds and Tom Scoble ripped through the top order and Souths found themselves in an ever worse predicament than the first innings.
They managed to get to 76 with Smith making 18.
Wests were then cruising at 0-41, and even at 3-82 looked well in control with Dave Mudaliar (48) in great touch. But when he fell to McNeill the Wests’ chase began to wobble and Osborne (5-25) swooped in.