New South Wales have dashed South Australia's hopes of defending their Ryobi One-Day Cup crown after upsetting the Redbacks for the second time in four days with an 18-run victory at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
The equation was simple for the Redbacks - win and they were in the domestic limited-overs final for the second consecutive year, lose and they were out of the running.
Heading into the game New South Wales were also a faint chance of playing in the competition final against Victoria if they could claim an unlikely double bonus-point victory.
And that flicker of hope was enough to inspire the Blues, who spearheaded by a superb century to Brad Haddin, set the Redbacks a victory target of 267 after winning the toss and electing to bat.
The Blues then bowled out the hosts for 248 in reply after South Australia produced a disastrous collapse of 4-13 at the top of the innings.
Haddin, though, struck the ball sweetly and was faultless as he scored 125 in an innings that included 17 boundaries and three sixes.
Shaun Abbott also starred with both bat and ball for the visitors after scoring an unbeaten 36 - 22 of those came off the final two overs of the innings - to push the Blues towards their total of 8-266 before snaring bowling figures of 3-48.
Peter Nevill (25) also played his part earlier in the day, combining for a 91-run stand with Haddin.
South Australia lost Dan Christian (12) - batting in an unfamiliar opening role - early on to a spectacular diving catch by Nevill, but recovered when former Redbacks captain Michael Klinger (44) and rookie left-hander Alex Carey combined for a formidable union.
Carey grew with confidence on debut before the 21-year-old's 59-run partnership with Klinger came to an end when the latter was run out by a direct hit from David Dawson, who did brilliantly to gather the ball and hit the stumps while on the move.
The match was turned on its head when the Redbacks innings hit a sudden wall after they lost three wickets in the space of an over following Klinger's dismissal.
Abbott was at the heart of the collapse and on the verge of a hat-trick when he dismissed Tom Cooper (three) and Alex Ross - albeit via a controversial lbw decision - for a golden duck.
Carey, who had smashed four boundaries and a six as he scored 38, was also rapped on the pads for lbw by Doug Bollinger (2-36).
Redbacks skipper Johan Botha (53) and promising youngster Travis Head were not willing to cough up the opportunity for back-to-back final appearances and formed a timely 39-run partnership.
But Head threw away his wicket on 20 when he went after Blues spinner Adam Zampa (1-46) and skied a shot high in the air to Abbott at long-on.
NSW could have avoided a dramatic finish when Redbacks wicketkeeper Tim Ludeman (52) was on four, however his opposite number Haddin spilt a routine catch.
Ludeman survived another dropped catch when towering Blues speedster Gurinder Sandhu (3-55) failed to hold a difficult chance, before punishing the visitors with a series of boundaries and sixes.
Botha also ensured the run rate continued to lift dramatically by surpassing 50 in the 83-run partnership with Ludeman, but fell the next over to put the Redbacks in danger of derailing once more.
Faced with a run-a-ball scenario, Ludeman reached his half-century and looked likely to salvage a win for the home side just before Sandhu struck with the vital breakthrough and bowled the 25-year-old with a slower delivery.
Sandhu rattled the stumps the very next ball to send Chadd Sayers packing for a duck before also picking up the scalp of Jake Haberfield (four) to seal an exhilarating win.
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First Posted 17 February, 2013 10:18PM AEST