HISTORY was made in the final round of the Gippsland Cricket League when Traralgon opening bowler Brad Knowles captured two hat-tricks in the space of two overs against Warragul.
Central Gippsland won a thriller against Bairnsdale by a solitary run.
Leongatha will meet Sale Maffra in the final to be played on Sunday, 3 February.
Central GLD 7/147 d Bairnsdale 146
IN the thriller of the final round, Central Gippsland batted first at the Maryvale Reserve and found the going tough against some accurate Bairnsdale bowling.
It was Aiden Vesty who toughed it out with a fine 59 and he received support from Jesse Giardina who made 21.
After 50 overs Central Gippsland had made only 7/147 which did not appear to be anywhere near enough.
Jamie Robinson (3/24) and Aaron Cameron (2/38) were Bairnsdale’s best bowlers.
Bairnsdale seemed to be in an invincible position at 4/135 requiring only 12 runs for victory thanks to the fine batting of Reagan Kyle (52) and Cameron McPhan (40). Amazingly, they lost their next six wickets for the addition of only 11 runs to be dismissed for 146 off 42.2 overs, one short of the target.
This was a fantastic win for Central Gippsland with Lucas Fry (4/26), Liam Smit (3/32) and Sam Price (2/19) providing the heroics with the ball.
Leongatha 9/264 d Sale Maffra 8/226
In the battle for top spot Leongatha batted first and was immediately in attack mode.
Once again it was the dashing Gavin Britt who contributed a brilliant 85 and he received excellent support from Dylan Clark who made 52.
Shane Murdoch chipped in with a valuable 41 to take the home team to 9/264 off their 50 overs.
The Sale Maffra bowlers toiled hard with Jack Tatterson taking 3/56, Matt Dowsett 2/39 and Dylan Bolton 2/67.
It was always going to be a tall order to overcome such a total, but Brett Lanigan (55), Mike Jones (58*) and Sam Bedgood (49) did their level best.
After 50 overs Sale Maffra finished with 8/226 which was 38 runs short of the target but enough to get them into the final on percentage.
Clark capped off another fine double picking up 3/29 for Leongatha. These two will meet again in the final on Sunday, 3 February.
Traralgon 9/221 d Warragul 177
THIS was an important game for Warragul as a win would have guaranteed a finals berth.
Traralgon was sent in and a couple of early run outs did not help the cause.
Skipper Brad Knowles (76) and Nathan Rosser (56) came together and put on an excellent partnership of 106 on a challenging pitch.
After 50 overs Traralgon had chalked up a competitive 221 for the loss of nine wickets.
Brad Wadlan has enjoyed a great GCL season and he finished with 4/45 for the visitors.
In reply, Warragul worked hard and at one stage was 4/168 thanks to Chris Savage (45), Tom Papley (38) and Wadlan (38).
The game was wrapped up in a four over flash, as Knowles took two hat-tricks within two overs in an unprecedented effort.
The speedster bowled with extraordinary accuracy, claiming bowled and LBW wickets, in a performance which may never be replicated.
Knowles finished with 7/19 as Warragul collapsed to be all out for 177 and missed their chance to play in the final.
Alberton had the bye in round five.