RAWTENSTALL will play Burnley in next month’s Foster’s Worsley Cup final after they edged out Lowerhouse in one of the all-time great semi-finals yesterday.
While Burnley were easing to victory over Nelson, Rocky sent a huge crowd into party mode as their last pair got them over the line in a nerve twitching last over.
The game had ebbed and flowed but when Peter Wrathmell and 17-year-old Cameron Holder performed a minor miracle to take their men to the brink it seemed almost routine.
That was until they both fell – and it was left to 52-year-old Keith Roscoe and another spin star Imran Abid to take their team to dreamland.
Rawtenstall made an early breakthrough as Jonathan Finch was caught by Vinny Hanson for two off the bowling of Brett Pelser before Jonny Whitehead (34) and Ben Heap advanced the score to 61.
But Whitehead departed for 34 to Roscoe and when Cobus Pienaar and Matt Walker fell cheaply the tie was back in the balance.
But Charlie Cottam joined Heap and played a fine knock of 38 out of a stand of 105 to put the House back in the driving seat.
He was caught by Andy Riley before Heap, who had been dropped at mid-off by Roscoe when on 15, finally departed to the bowling of Riley as Chris Cook-Martin held a magnificent catch in the deep.
Chris Bleazard hit 16 before falling to another good catch, this time from Abid, and Paddy Martin’s late 19 not out saw the House up to 224-9.
Riley returned his career best bowling figures of 4-38, while Roscoe’s 10 overs cost just 19 and Pelser picked up 2-25.
Hanson went second ball of the Rawtenstall reply while Danny Barlow made 19 as the home side got themselves set.
But the turning point came when Pelser went for a duck, caught superbly by Cottam at short extra cover.
Andrew Payne had looked in good touch and made 19 as he looked to roll back the years before he was caught at the wicket with the score on 86.
Cook-Martin was batting beautifully as he took the fight to Lowerhouse and brought up a fine 50 in 94 minutes and 80 balls.
But when he was on 80 he fell leg before to Martin and he cut a miserable figure when he walked off to a standing ovation from all parts of the ground.
That was a hammer blow to Rocky, although Wrathmell carried on where Cook-Martin left off to pass his own half-century as the tension was cranked up. But young Holder’s 27 took Rocky to the brink and in the end with last pair Keith Roscoe and Abid at the crease it was nervy.
But with the second ball of the final over, Abid smashed Walker through mid-wicket to spark the party of all parties.
At MyProtein Turf Moor Burnley piled up 248-6 after a slow start with 50 coming from the first 20 overs.
The first wicket fell with the score on 86 in the 26th over as Chris Holt departed for 38 but that brought Michael Brown to the crease to join Dan Pickup.
And the former Middlesex, Hampshire and Surrey opener got the scoreboard ticking over with 162 runs coming from the last 24 overs and 65 of those coming off the final seven. Brown made a half-century in quick time before departing for 52 while Pickuip finally went for 68 as Michael Kelly (25) and Chris Burton (33) did late damage.
Nelson got off to a flying start with 56 coming in the first 10 overs before Tyler McGladdery went for 38.
Lewis Bradley quickly followed before professional Ryan Canning cheaply.
And at the halfway stage with Joe Scuderi and Neil Thompson there Nelson needed 161 off 25 with six wickets left.
Both those key men fell and Nelson were facing the most uphill of battles to have any hope.
And in the end they slipped to defeat as the holders booked a final return.