Launceston secured their entry into the Greater Northern Cup finals series through the most unlikely scenario to ensure they retain a shot at defending their title in the new year.
Launceston needed to win to stay alive in the competition and for Ulverstone to taste defeat against Burnie on the North-West Coast.
While the Lions were pipped by Westbury in a five-wicket loss, the Blacks Caps were overpowered by the Hurricanes to the tune of seven wickets, ensuring Launceston's place in finals on points.
Launceston did a lot right against the table-topping Shamrocks as opening pair Cameron Lynch (49 off 102) and Samuel Elliston-Buckley (84 off 83) set about laying the groundwork for a solid total.
Elliston-Buckley showed every inch of his natural stroke-making ability to temper the Shamrocks' opening bowlers and hit them to all parts in a fast-paced innings in a slightly shortened game after a weather burst.
Launceston captain Lynch provided the perfect foil in a more reserved but no less important knock as the Lions' opening duo moved past a century stand with ease and eyed a larger score.
Shamrocks spinner Kieren Hume, in his 150th A-grade game, had Elliston-Buckley mistiming to Liam Ryan and Lynch trapped adjacent in the span of three overs to grind the innings to a halt.
"I thought he was amazing, for him to do what he does and take crucial wickets and be able to tie the runs down as well was amazing," stand-in captain Nathan Parkin said.
Hume's efforts triggered a mini-collapse of 4-19 before Jackson Miller (40 off 24) added some late firepower to get the Lions to 5-229 from 46 overs.
The Shamrocks' reply looked on a knife-edge at 5-125 with Parkin and middle-order batter Joel Lloyd at the crease.
Parkin (85* off 130) and Lloyd (70* off 46) combined in harmony for a 108-run partnership as the Lions' bowlers struggled for answers against the latter's clean ball-striking.
The pair were comfortable rotating the strike with a good outfield before Parkin secured the win with a boundary to maintain their undefeated streak.
"[Lloyd] makes so many important runs for us through the middle and late overs, he's an incredibly clean striker of the ball ... but in addition to that he just played some smart cricket shots and milked the ones when he had to so that was nice to see," Parkin said.
In the other Cricket North fixture, South Launceston conquered Mowbray due to a season's best innings from Mackenzie Barker (107 off 124).
The Knights' opening batter raised the bat for the first time this season, as he led South Launceston to 6-251.
"Even if [Barker] doesn't score he's got positive intent and he puts the bowlers on the back foot early, and batted beautifully today," Knights captain Sean Harris said.
Despite a reputation for being an aggressive striker, Barker's control allowed the Knights' middle-order to accelerate the innings as Angus Foster (37 off 23) cleared the rope four times and Brodie Jarrad (24 off 17) went better than run-a-ball late in the piece.
In reply, Jason Snare (53 off 75) looked to mount a counter-attack at 4-70 but the Eagles lost wickets at regular intervals as the Knights' bowlers never relented to have them all out for 190. James Leake (2-44) and Riley Donlon (2-35) impressed with the ball as did Graham Donaldson in a well-rounded effort.
While the two clubs were already out of the Greater Northern Cup finals equation, the points will prove valuable as Cricket North transitions to the two-day competition in the new year.
"It's a nice way to go into Christmas actually, I think they were just above us so we leapfrog them which is a nice feeling not to be on the bottom of the ladder heading into the two-day competition," Harris said.
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