The scorecard: England 7-137 (Buttler 46, Richardson 3-33) lost to Australia 3-138 (Maxwell 39, Short 36*, Lynn 31) by seven wicket with 33 balls to spare.
The match in a tweet: Mighty Maxwell repeats dose after bowlers once again strangle England, as Aussies book spot in tri-series final #AUSvENG
The hero: Once again, it was Glenn Maxwell who took the game by the scruff of the neck with a well-paced and clever T20 knock. Coming off his thrilling final-ball century against the same opponents on Wednesday, the destructive right-hander took charge of this match. Along with D'Arcy Short, who played a measured knock at the other end, the pair put on 65 for third wicket. But the game-defining sequence came when the duo took the score from 2-65 at the end of the ninth over to 2-104 at the of the 11th. The two-over, 39-run blitz put to bed any doubt that Australia might fall into the same middle-overs trance England had earlier. Maxwell's skill against spin is unrivalled in this Australia T20 side and he and Short summed up the situation expertly by reducing the required run-rate to below four after they took leg-spinner Adil Rashid's third over for 20. From there, the result was in little doubt, despite Maxwell departing with 22 still needed.
The support cast: Australia's bowling in this T20 tri-series has been outstanding and it was another clinical, match-winning effort from their unheralded attack on Saturday evening. The quartet of Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson, Billy Stanlake and Ashton Agar had a combined 13 games of T20I cricket under their belts coming into this series and their ability to step up in the absence of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins has given selectors a genuine dilemma when they're all available. Collectively Australia's bowlers squeezed the life out of England; reduced to 3-34 in the Power Play, the likes of Tye, Agar and allrounder Marcus Stoinis suffocated the visitors through the middle overs. Sam Billings and Jos Buttler, two of the more inventive and explosive T20 batsmen going around, managed just 43 off 41 balls in their fifth-wicket partnership between overs 11 to 18. Richardson returned at the death to finish with the best figures (3-33 off four) after two final-over wickets but those scalps were truly the result of a miserly team-bowling effort. In their three games of this series, Australia have kept their opponents to 9-117, 9-155 and 7-137.
Lynnsanity watch: Chris Lynn will be itching to turn cameos into the kind of change game-changing knocks we've seen so many times in the BBL, but the Queenslander's entertaining 19-ball 31 nonetheless put the Aussies on the path to victory. Typically associated with power hitting over the leg-side, Lynn showed another side to his game by blasting the three of his first five balls to the off-side fence. After taking 16 off one Tom Curran over, his battle with left-armer David Willey, who dismissed him in Hobart with a top-notch in-swinger, was an intriguing contest. Having claimed the early scalp of David Warner for the second time in as many games, Willey soon came around the wicket in a bid to cramp Lynn for room. The right-hander responded by clipping a low full toss for six to the long backward square leg boundary and while he was undone by quick Chris Jordan, Lynn had broken the back of the run-chase.
The run-out: Australia's fielding in this tri-series has been top class, and David Warner's run-out of Dawid Malan put the bar up a notch again. Malan took off straightaway after bunting one towards Warner at mid-off, but quick as a hare, Warner got to the ball, picked up and released all in one diving motion. The result was a direct hit at the non-striker's end and Malan, well aware he'd been the victim of some outstanding fielding, continued running straight off the ground to leave England floundering at 3-34.
The catch: Aaron Finch may have wanted to ease his way back into international cricket after missing Austraila's last four limited-overs fixtures with a hamstring strain, but he was forced into (and successfully passed) a fitness test just eight balls into the match. As Alex Hales skied one high over Finch's head at mid-off, the Victorian backpedaled at pace, before turning around and sprinting full pelt towards the long-off rope, showing excellent composure to hang on to it on the second bite.
The stat: Melbourne just isn't for everyone and it appears England's stand-in skipper Jos Buttler might fall into that category. After his stuttering effort of 46 off 49 balls, his two slowest T20I knocks (minimum of 20 balls) have now come at the MCG. With a career strike rate is 135, the wicketkeeper's slowest innings remains his 27-ball 22 at the MCG in 2014 against Australia.
The shot: There are few batsmen in world cricket who can reverse lap/sweep/pull quite like Sam Billings. Big Bash fans have had a taste of the Englishman's talent at Sydney Sixers over the last two seasons, and this wrong-handed pull off Andrew Tye was a reminder of his skill and one of the few bright moments in England's night.
The wash-up: Australia have booked their spot in the final – to be held in Auckland on February 21 – with three wins on the trot. The tri-series now moves to New Zealand, where England take on the Black Caps on Tuesday in Wellington. Australia fly across the Tasman on the same day and face the Kiwis in Auckland on Friday. England and New Zealand's final group-stage match two days later in Hamilton looms as a a potential preliminary final.
Australia XI: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch, D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson, Billy Stanlake
England XI: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, James Vince, Jos Buttler (c,wk), Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.
First T20I Australia won by seven wickets. Scorecard
Second T20I Australia won by five wickets. Scorecard
Third T20I Australia won by seven wickets. Scorecard
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21