A cavalier 151 by Corey Richards helped NSW scrape into Sunday week's ING Cup final after a nailbiting win over Western Australia at the WACA ground tonight.
The Blues held off the Warriors late batting charge to win by three runs with quick Shawn Bradstreet (2-39) the hero having tail-ender Michael Clark (7) caught behind with just three balls left.
It continues the Blues' recent dominance over the Warriors, winning their last three matches by the slimmest of margins, including last year's ING Cup final at the WACA ground.
But a nervous NSW brigade appeared to be cracking under pressure with some sloppy bowling and fielding in the final overs as the run chase climaxed.
And despite an excellent knock from allrounder Brad Hogg (39no) for the home side, he ran out of partners in the end.
It was the Warriors who eventually folded under the pressure with their last four wickets going for 29 runs.
Richards earlier rode his luck being put down three times as he registered the fifth highest innings in domestic one-day cricket off 147 balls.
He guided the Blues to 9-267 off their 50 overs but the Warriors made 264 in reply.
NSW will play the winner of the match between South Australia and Queensland in Adelaide this Sunday.
Richards' glorious innings overshadowed big Jo Angel's (3-53) record-breaking feats as the West Australian quick became the leading wicket-taker in domestic one-day cricket.
But it was a bittersweet evening for the veteran as he watched his state's outside chances of making the final slip away.
Angel moved past former teammate Tom Moody's mark of 70 wickets when he had a scratchy Michael Bevan (40) caught at mid-on by Clark.
But it was the dropped catch by Kade Harvey from a full-blooded cover drive when Richards was on 68 that came back to haunt the Warriors.
Richards seemed to edge his way towards his ton before accelerating the innings after key batsman Michael Clarke (18) and Shane Lee (2) fell in one Brad Williams over.
In reply, wicketkeeper Ryan Campbell lived dangerously before Mark Higgs had him caught by Bevan for a quickfire (42) to leave the Warriors at 1-71 in the 14th over.
Chris Rogers (28) followed just three runs later when quick Stuart Clark (1-35) had him caught behind by Brad Haddin.
But it was when skipper Simon Katich (18) was caught behind off Bradstreet that the home team looked in deep trouble at 3-109 in the 22nd over.
Michael Hussey revived the innings with a dashing 45 which included a $200,000 sweep shot which hit the sponsor's sign at square leg.
The 26-year-old, who is expected to keep $80,000 of the bounty and share the rest with teammates, could only manage another 14 runs after the money shot.
But a fifty-run partnership between Hogg and Harvey (29) for the seventh wicket put the heat back on the Blues.