Birt muscles Tasmania into final
Tasmania 5 for 234 (Birt 93*, Paine 57, North 3-38) beat Western Australia 7 for 231 (Ronchi 55, Doherty 4-32) by 5 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Tasmania gained a chance to push for their fourth domestic one-day trophy after their penultimate-ball victory over Western Australia earned them a place in the FR Cup final. The Tigers had Travis Birt to thank for being first into the decider after his 93 off 99 took them past the Warriors' 7 for 231 with five wickets in hand.
They will face the winner of Saturday's clash between Queensland and Victoria, who are pushing for hosting duties on February 28. Tasmania were hoping for a comfortable chase but they couldn't produce the major innings until Birt started to flex.
Tim Paine, the opener, benefited from three dropped chances to move to 57 as he guided the pursuit until his departure left the side at a nervous 4 for 145. Paine fell trying to sweep Aaron Heal, the left-arm spinner, and left Birt to take over.
Tasmania's situation remained tight but Birt, who hit eight fours and two sixes, was able to provide important surges. He thumped two boundaries through the off-side in consecutive balls off Brad Knowles and followed up in his next over with a six on to the roof of the members'. Birt and Jason Krejza (22 not out) took the Powerplay in the 46th over, picking up 15 from the first six balls to ease some more pressure, and then were relieved when Mitchell Marsh dropped his second catch of the innings when Birt top edged.
Sixteen were needed off two overs and Birt swivelled two legside fours off Michael Hogan, leaving five required from the last six balls. Three singles off Nathan Coulter-Nile made it two off two and Birt sealed the result with a pull to the midwicket boundary.
Marcus North had given his side a chance after starting his spell by removing Ed Cowan to a soft drive while the captain George Bailey slipped against the offspinner when attempting a pull. North repeated his first-delivery trick in the 41st over when Dan Marsh cut to backward point on 7 and the offspinner collected 3 for 38 during a day for the slow bowlers.
Xavier Doherty's 4 for 32 was responsible for many of Western Australia's difficulties after the hosts won the toss. The Warriors suffered regular losses to be 5 for 118 when Mitchell Marsh left with a breezy 42 off 36, but the lower order chipped in with some important contributions.
Luke Ronchi led the recovery by shelving his aggressive instincts to post 55 off 85 and his 75-run partnership with Matt Johnston (39) was important in getting them so far. The total would have been smaller if Dan Marsh had taken any of the three chances he missed off Doherty, but the locals copied the generosity in the field.
After Doherty was used at crucial times in the win over Queensland on Saturday, Bailey gave the left-arm spinner more responsibility. Doherty came on at first-change and picked up Liam Davis lbw and returned in his second spell to have Luke Pomersbach (18) caught at cover. He was called in the batting Powerplay to take care of Ronchi and Johnston to complete an impressive performance.