Launceston rampaged its way through to the last four in the state on Sunday after turfing out Longford in the North’s Twenty20 final.
The damage towards the 92-run win at the NTCA No.1 Ground was done in the first 13 balls of Longford’s innings following the changeover.
Opener Tom Gray ripped through the stunned Tigers top-order in an extraordinary display of seam bowling to effortlessly advance into the Hurricanes Community T20 Cup semi-finals in March.
Gray took wickets in his third, fifth and sixth ball, and another in the first of a second over to snare a hat-trick.
Longford were left reeling at 4-8 after three wickets fell initially without adding a run during Gray’s super first over.
The 23-year-old finished with a staggering 5-2 from four overs on the Lions’ way to eventually bundling out Longford for 47 off the third-last ball of over No. 20.
Gray afterwards was just surprised to grab a handful of scalps in a big T20 match.
“I think I’ve had a best six-for before, but not a five-for like this,” he said.
“You only get 24 balls, so maybe one or two [wickets]?”
After the visitors slipped to a worse 6-10, Max Magann made a pact to bat to the end.
The Tiger’s lone-hand shored up credibility in a resilient 22 not out off 57 balls.
Last year Longford proved competitive against Cricket Tasmania Premier League giants South Hobart-Sandy Bay on the adjoining oval, but the region’s best hard-wicket side found the track difficult on the Lions’ home territory.
“We probably expected a tight contest as they are a strong team and have been for many years,” Gray said.
“The one thing we had in our favour was it was a slightly slower wicket, adjusting to the bounce and maybe doing a little bit sideways where for us there was a bit of swing, but didn’t do much else.
“It was interesting that a few of them slumped pretty hard early, which is probably what their natural game is.”
Launceston got off to a shaky start, but finished with a competitive 8-139.
The Tigers had the Cricket North side 4-44 in the 10th over and chasing down less than 100 looked a chance.
Lions No.3 Tom Bennett piloted the innings back on course with 41 off 35 balls that included two fours and two sixes. Lachie Newland added 20 towards a 48-run stand with Bennett.
James Curran (20 off 11) and Gray (19 off 11) both impacted on the death overs.