New South Wales 2 for 82 (Warner 54, Hughes 25) beat South Australia 81 (Pollard 13, Lambert 3-20, S Smith 2-24, D Smith 2-4) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The major contenders might have become pretenders to the Big Bash crown, after South Australia were completely dismantled by last year's champions New South Wales at Stadium Australia in the final qualifying match of the tournament.
Coming into the match, the result had no bearing on the finals, which were already set in stone. But the Redbacks, who are hosting this year's final, were made to look second-rate against the Blues, courtesy of a horrible batting collapse, before David Warner thrilled the 26,406 fans in attendance with the third-fastest fifty in the competition's history.
Warner's extraordinary 21-ball 54 was made even more memorable by four enormous sixes off one Shaun Tait over which the Redback firebrand would rather forget. Warner struck half a dozen sixes in all, each as big as the last, in his man-of-the-match display before Mark Cosgrove reprieved himself, holding the second skied catch Warner had offered him.
In reality though, it was the fragility of South Australia's batting, rather than Warner's bashing, that caused the eight-wicket rout. New South Wales were only asked to chase 82 after the Redbacks fell apart having won the toss and batted first.
Grant Lambert claimed three wickets in his first three overs, two of which came from mistimed pull shots. The captain Graham Manou, and star imports Shahid Afridi and Kieron Pollard also presented soft catches to reduce the Redbacks innings to a sinking ship. The kamikaze run-outs of Cosgrove and Mark Cleary made it an unsalvageable wreck, as they folded to be all out in the 15th over.
It was the second collapse in two games for South Australia after they lost 6 for 4 to be all out for 131 in their last encounter against Tasmania.
Steve Smith continued his good series with ball to claim two for 24 to go with Lambert's three for 20 but, unfortunately, both were overshadowed by a display of hitting that seemed even to surprise Warner himself.
Unfortunately for the reigning champions, their faultless display has come too late in the grand scheme of this tournament.
But they may have done either Queensland or Victoria a favour by inflicting a devastating psychological blow on South Australia, who will have to regroup ahead of Saturday's final, where they'll meet the winner of the Tuesday's Preliminary without the services of their Pakistani superstar Afridi, who has been called up for national duties.