Top seeds All In Tremains Elusive survived an almighty scare from Central Sports Vet Services to win 50-49 and advance to the Hawke's Bay Netball Super Eight final next week.
All In were heavy favourites going into the semifinal at the Pettigrew Green Arena in Napier on Saturday afternoon having gone undefeated through all 14 of their round-robin games.
But Central came to play, and even held an unlikely lead down the stretch of the first game of netball played in Hawke's Bay since the move to Covid alert level 2.
A fairly sloppy opening quarter from both teams reflected the month-long layoff over lockdown while both teams' benches were making plenty of noise in the enforced absence of spectators.
All In were able to hold Central at arm's length over the first half to lead 27-24 at the major break.
Central fought back hard to get even with about five minutes left to set up a thrilling finish.
With the scores tied at 48 in the final two minutes, All In got a crucial turnover and scored off the opposition's centre pass.
All In coach Arama Jackson said it was challenging to get back up to speed after lockdown, although they were lucky to get a couple of training sessions in ahead of the game.
"It was really taking it back to basics stuff, just finding the ball and each other again," she said.
Jackson thinks winning a tight match like that is good preparation for next week's final where anything can happen.
They will play defending champions Otane Sports Thirsty Whale, who defeated Hastings High School Old Girls BM Accounting Huia 62-47 in the second semifinal.
Otane had Hastings' number in both of their round-robin matches and they looked set to continue that trend with an 18-13 first quarter lead.
Old Girls showed signs of fighting back in the second term but trailed by eight at halftime.
Otane kept the hammer down after the break to make it 47-38 after three quarters before the game turned into a blowout in the final few minutes.
Coach Annemarie Kupa said despite the unusual leadup to the game her side played about as well as they have all season.
"It was good to have that break, because the girls were quite eager to get back out there and it showed."