Wellington have booked their spot in the Ford Trophy decider after ending Central Districts' reign with a dramatic victory in today's elimination final.
Chasing 248 to set up a clash with Canterbury on Saturday, an unbeaten 59-run partnership between Luke Woodcock and Matt Taylor carried Wellington to a five-wicket win at the Basin Reserve.
Woodcock (41no off 35) and Taylor (31no off 29) came together in the 43rd over when the required run rate had crept well above a run a ball, proceeding to pace their stand to perfection.
Having done the damage by taking 12 off the penultimate over, Wellington sealed victory with three balls to spare courtesy of a couple of boundaries from Woodcock, extinguishing Central Districts' hopes of winning the one-day competition for three straight seasons.
The platform for Wellington's innings was laid by Michael Papps, although the opener's knock of 80 from 124 balls put the onus on his teammates to increase the strikerate at the opposite end. Captain Hamish Marshall celebrated his 38th birthday with a quickfire 37 but it was not until Woodcock and Taylor began forcing the pace that the home side seemed in control of the chase.
Runs were hard to come by all day at the Basin Reserve, with Central Districts bowled out from the final delivery of the innings. Opener George Worker added another 85 to his competition-leading tally but, coming from 118 balls and featuring only eight boundaries, the innings left the rest of the Stags' order looking for quick runs to build a competitive total.
Will Young helped in that quest with a half-century but four batsmen were dismissed for five or fewer, creating an opening that Wellington soon grasped.
The Firebirds will now head to Rangiora with the hopes of overturning their 27-run defeat to Canterbury in last Saturday's major semifinal.