Indubitably the batsmen had laid the platform for the elimination final victory on Friday so, if the traditional banter is anything to go by in the Central Districts Stags camp, the bowlers were due today.

And, boy oh boy, did the Stags spittle shiners turn it on big time when they spearheaded CD to flog the Northern Districts Knights by 67 runs in the grand final to be crowned the 2018-19 Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 champions in Hamilton tonight.

Remarkably, CD captain Tom Bruce and his gallant Green Army masterminded the victory on what was a paltry total of 147-8 in 20 overs, after he won the toss and elected to pad up, albeit on a wicket he and ND counterpart Dean Brownlie felt "wasn't easy".

"Looking back 147 at the time, we probably felt it was 20 to 30 short," Bruce said from the changing room as the boys broke into massive celebrations.

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The two sides had rolled out 16 big dogs on the park between them with international experience although you wonder if the hosts were left pondering if they should have stuck with their true-and-tried squad who had brought them that far.

"There were good calibre of players out there from both sides but the pitch determined how the game went in a low-scoring affair so we are really proud to be on the right side of the ledger," said Bruce who rotated his bowlers adroitly as the game ebbed and flowed.

In all seriousness, New Zealand coach Gary Stead and national convenor of selectors Gavin Larsen should have had their iPads out to take notes tonight in nutting out their ICC World Cup squad to England from May to July. The reasoning, obviously, that if the ANZ T20 series against India was part of the equation than this T20 was certainly a better yardstick than any the Banga Boys could provide in their three-match ODI, with two one-sided affairs mercifully gone.

But tonight belonged to the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags who shrugged off the bridesmaid tag after two losing grand finals and coming into today's one as the third qualifiers.

"It's pretty special, to be honest," Bruce said. "It's been a couple of tough years being runners-up in the finals so to get over the line, third-time lucky, is a pretty proud feeling."

CD Stags coach Heinrich Malan (centre) celebrates with vice-captain Seth Rance (left) and skipper Tom Bruce in the changing rooms at Seddon Park, Hamilton, tonight. Photo/Photosport
CD Stags coach Heinrich Malan (centre) celebrates with vice-captain Seth Rance (left) and skipper Tom Bruce in the changing rooms at Seddon Park, Hamilton, tonight. Photo/Photosport

Even the most ardent Stags supporters would have had to concede they would have harboured the here-you-go-again feeling after the batsman couldn't match the 219-4 against the Auckland Aces at Eden Park Outer oval three days ago in the 44-run victory.

The CD bowling attack needed something special and all five of them rolled their sleeves with aplomb.

"For the bowlers to bowl the way they did and the fielders to field the way they did created so much pressure that the Knights were left feeling that it was a clinically really all-round performance," Bruce said, after Bracewell took three catches, William Young two and wicketkeeper Dane Cleaver two.

If the Knights' six bowlers hadn't gone over the 10-an-over mark than the Stags trio of Doug Bracewell, Blair Tickner and Adam Milne had raised the bars to under five an over.

Milne, back from a pre-Christmas injury, took 3-12 from 2.4 overs while test spinner Ajaz Patel claimed 3-24 from three overs. Opener Seth Rance took 1-21 from three overs.

Bruce was reluctant to single out any player but the man-of-the-match performance belonged to Black Caps toiler Bracewell who claimed 2-10 from three overs, including a wicket maiden, although many of them played pivotal roles in the match.

"Look Dougie was awesome but you could say that about all the bowlers out there today and Deano [Dean Foxcroft] with the bat," he said, lauding how every player performed the roles in their portfolios.

You somehow got the impression the bowlers could have stifled any team to under 100 runs, as the Knights capitulated for 80 with 32 balls to ponder what-ifs.

"They were awesome today to defend 140 [odd]," said Bruce, mindful it was a tough pitch after having done their dash on it but kept faith in their "all-international" attack after having left out Ben Wheeler for Black Caps newbie Tickner who had passed the fitness test in the morning after missing the semifinal through an ankle injury picked up in a warm-up session before training at Nelson Park, Napier, last Wednesday afternoon. He took 1-11 from three overs to sit just below Bracewell's 3.33 an over on 3.67.

Allrounder Joshua Clarkson, who had also injured his groin that day in the nets, failed the test but watched from the sidelines.

It's that No 1 feeling for the Central Districts Stags as they pose for a shot that will probably be on the front cover of the glossy colour CD association 2018-19 almanac. Photo/Photosport
It's that No 1 feeling for the Central Districts Stags as they pose for a shot that will probably be on the front cover of the glossy colour CD association 2018-19 almanac. Photo/Photosport

Black Caps batsman Bruce, of Taranaki, captured the Stags' mental fortitude of believing the target was defendable or be "blown off the park".

Brownlie conceded the top-qualifying Knights batsmen felt the pinch as they had watched the run rate creep up from seven to more than 10 while wickets tumbled. ND batsmen kept finding CD fielders as they tried to dig themselves out of a deeper hole.

"Full credit to CD who were too good for us today," he said.

But that shouldn't detract from Foxcroft, at first drop, who had made his intentions clear with some educated cricket shots in a format that demands maniacal split personality to find the boundary rope.

He carved up 63 runs from 50 deliveries, including seven boundaries and two sixes, but no one seemed keen to hang around with him to boost his match-winning innings.

"He's obviously been brilliant for us throughout the summer so he's been one hell of a find," Bruce said of the You Travel Taradale CC premier club cricketer in his debut season after three summers in Hawke's Bay after arriving here as an import with South African age-group international pedigree.

"He's only 20 so to have that composure to build an innings like that in the final shows what a great character he is and one hell of a player so I'm really proud for him. Deano batted incredibly well," he said of Foxcroft who scored only four runs against the Aces on Friday but fastened his seatbelt when season's hero, opener Young, left after a two-ball duck today.

CD Cricket had made it clear they would not bring in an import, unless he was of the calibre of former Stags batsman Mahela Jayawardene, but develop its homegrown talent.

"I guess that's the strength of our association and the programme that they're running so there are so many high-calibre players coming through and anyone who has had the opportunity has taken it," Bruce said. "It's working for us at the moment and we seem to have an abundance of talent from the region."

He said the Stags would party pretty hard tonight in the changing rooms because cricket was a funny game and teams needed to celebrate their successes because the next could be a way down the track.

"We have a four-day campaign coming up so we'll be switched on to go for that in Thursday in Christchurch," he said of the defending Plunket Shield champions who are on track to regain their crown as the 2018-19 leaders.

It's a Stags do as Dean Foxcroft (left), Doug Bracewell, Blair Tickner, Bevan Small, Ben Wheeler and Joshua Clarkson show why it's imperative to celebrate success. Photo/Photosport
It's a Stags do as Dean Foxcroft (left), Doug Bracewell, Blair Tickner, Bevan Small, Ben Wheeler and Joshua Clarkson show why it's imperative to celebrate success. Photo/Photosport