The Far North Fusion will play the defending champion North Queensland Monsoons at the Gabba on January 11th to decide who is king of Country Queensland after both teams went through the pool stages undefeated.
Far North started strong with a tense run chase against the impressive Central Queensland Seamers who set them 3/144 at Cazaly’s Stadium. Joe McGahan and Brent Hartley scored half centuries for the Seamers. Big hitting Fusion opener, Jake Roach whacked 61 runs to set up the run chase and Brenton Edwards finished it off with 35 not out as the Fusion snuck home in 19 overs.
Far North looked to be cruising to an easy win against Darling Downs after restricting them to 8/107. Openers Jake Roach and Matt Wilkins both scored 39 runs to put the Fusion in a strong position until four late wickets to Suns captain Kieren Gibbs took it to the last over. The Fusion held their nerve though to strengthen their grip on top spot in pool B.
The Monsoons made light work of Mackay Whitsundays in their opening game before struggling to chase down SEQ’s small total of 93 in their second game. The run chase didn’t go to plan and at 7 for 79 an upset was brewing. Lachlan Ford steadied the ship and got them home in the end.
North Queensland then dealt the new boys, Queensland Country Colts Thunder a reality check by beating them in the final group A game that decided top spot on the ladder.
The semi-finals were between Far North Fusion (1st in pool B) and Queensland Country Colts (2nd in pool A) and North Queensland Monsoons (1st pool A) versus the Central Queensland Seamers (2nd poolB)
Far North had lost in the semi-final stage in the four of the past five years. The past two times they lost to North Queensland in very close games so they were very determined to go one better now that they were on their home grounds.
Once again Wilkins and Roach set the Fusion innings up and only former Australian leg-spinner Cameron Boyce who was player/mentor for the Colts threatened to put the breaks on the locals with his 2/15 (4).
However the Fusion set the Colts 5/155 and it was always going to be too many on a wearing pitch. The Country Colts finished with 113.
North Queensland Monsoons battled away to set the Seamers 9/127 which seemed gettable. Scoring was tough as the pitch deteriorated for the Central Queensland boys who struggled to hit boundaries in the run chase and the Monsoons prevailed for their fifth straight Gabba final.
The Queensland Country Colts did well to make the semi final in their first try against the older Country boys and left-arm bowler Jai Kurt took home the Dirk Tazelaar Medal for player of the Country Challenge for his eight wickets in four games at an average of 12.
The final will be held at the Gabba before the Brisbane Heat versus Perth Scorchers game on Wednesday 11th of January.