Mount Maunganui are one game off bringing back the ND club championship to the Bay of Plenty for the fifth successive year.
Along with the Eric Petrie Cup, which is awarded to the ND club champions, the winner also secures the Northern Districts berth at the national club championships at Cornwall Park, Auckland.
The Mount Maunganui road to the Northern Districts playoffs came after they annexed the Baywide Cup in the Baywide pre-holiday competition and they squared off against Hamilton side Star Varsity in Hamilton last Sunday in one semifinal.
An uncovered pitch at Jansen Park saw the start delayed by an hour.
Star Varsity were captained by former Bay of Plenty representative batsmen Brett Sorrenson, who won the toss and elected to bowl.
Mount openers Pete Drysdale and Tim Clarke, who were coming off a 168-run partnership in Baywide cricket the previous day, started well and although Drysdale's wicket fell at 47, the Mount had made a solid start.
Clarke remained defiant and built two smaller partnerships with Mark Divehall and Ben Guild. Mount entered the final drinks break at 144/3 then Nick Smith blasted a quick-fire half century. When Clarke fell for 83 (off 103 balls) the Bay side were in charge and they went on to post 235/9.
The Mount bowlers brought early economy into their line and length. An early breakthrough came when Bay of Plenty and Northern Districts quick Tony Goodin removed Hamilton dangerman Ben Speake. Then Mount bowlers Alex Gooding, Pete Drysdale and Nick Smith slowed the home side's run rate. However, the Mount star with the ball was Dale Swan, who took five wickets for just 24 runs. Coupled with some outstanding work in the field from Goodin, Star Varsity were removed for 175 to give the Bay team a comfortable victory.
Mount Maunganui now face Kaipara Flats from Northland in the ND final at a venue to be arranged in February.
ND club semifinal:
Mount Maunganui 235/9 (Tim Clarke 83, Nick Smith 50) defeated Star Varsity 175 (Dale Swan 5/24).