NITROS AND SEAMERS BOOK GABBA FINAL IN COUNTRY CHALLENGE
The Mackay/Whitsunday Nitros went into this season's Bulls Masters Country Challenge confident of going back to back, but it didn't take long for them to come crashing back to earth after they were rolled convincingly by the North Queensland Monsoons in the first game of the carnival. They were bowled out for 98 and the Monsoons were never in trouble chasing the meagre total, getting the runs in the 15th over for the loss of four wickets.
Last year's finalists, the Far North Fusion also started the carnival in first gear, losing to Central Queensland, while the Darling Downs Suns looked primed for a big tournament with a big first up win over Wide Bay.
Heading into the final round, six of the eight teams still had a chance to make the semi-finals but the Gold Coast Thunder fell short, only just failing to beat North Queensland inside 15 overs (to advance on net run rate). Far North Fusion also failed to fire with a semi spot on the line, going down to the Darling Downs Suns who were the only team to finish the pool stage undefeated.
The semi-finals were set as:
Darling Downs Suns (1st pool A) v Mackay/Whitsunday Nitros (2nd Pool B)
North Queensland Monsoons (1st pool B) v Central Queensland Seamers (2nd Pool A)
Darling Downs batted first in semi final 1 and lost regular wickets as they could only set a modest total of 102. The defending champs looked in trouble when Mitchell English was caught and it was four down for 52. The middle order steadied with Bruun and Sambell seeing them home and into another Gabba final.
Central Queensland batted first in semi 2, and some big hitting from opener, JL Seng (45 off 18) set them up for a competitive total of 143. The Monsoons lost wickets as they fell behind in the run-chase, leaving lower-order hitter, Dan Kearney needing 14 off the last over to get his side home. He was caught on the long-off boundry to end the innings on 135.
Central Queensland will go for their first ever Bulls Masters Country Challenge title in December when they play the Nitros as a curtain-raiser to a Brisbane Heat game at the Gabba on January 17th.
The Player of Tournament award, named after Queensland fast bowling legend, Dirk Tazelaar went to Central Queensland Seamers all-rounder, Jason Seng, who finished the tournament with the fourth most runs, 134 at an average of 44.67 (strike rate of 186) and five wickets at an average of 18 (economy rate 6.27).