Needing to win to survive, the Canterbury Kings gave themselves a great chance with a serious fight at Seddon Park in the last round of the regular season — but it wasn’t quite enough as the Knights wielded their blades at the death.
Having been sent in for a match that had all the weight and pressure of a Final, the Kings reached 190 for five in their set of twenty — a fair enough tally in a high stakes game for both teams.
The stakes were high for the Knights because they needed victory to be assured of direct entry to the Grand Final, and hosting it.
Despite regular breakthroughs the Kings kept coming at them, but the purple raiders were crucially tamed by Ish Sodhi’s accuracy.
The leggie was a youngster in the Knights’ side when they won the national title on this very turf in 2014, and the expressions on his face signalled 110 per cent determination to be there again as he doubtless drew on those fond memories.
He stopped first drop Chad Bowes in his tracks after the dangerman had smashed his way to 39 off just 18 balls, the Kings going well at 64 for two in just the seventh over.
Michael Pollard (32 off 24) was putting up a fight, too, before import Chris Jordan had him caught at the halfway mark, but the Kings cavalry kept charging with captain Andrew Ellis left unbeaten on a quick 20 and Cam Fletcher again showing his power with an undefeated 32 off just 15 balls.
The Kings then struck a massive blow immediately with the ball, Tim Seifert trapped by Ed Nuttall first ball of the chase for a diamond duck.
Just as in the first innings, wickets would fall regularly but ultimately the difference was that, after coming in second ball of the chase, Dean Brownlie held on tight for a crunch 86 off just 50 balls.
When he finally fell in the sixteenth over with 45 runs still to be found, the Kings were right back in the game — briefly. That’s because Nick Kelly and Jordan (below) proved themselves a potent finishing pair, blasting four sixes between them, amid a slew of boundaries, to ensure they ran off the park as winners and Grand Finalists.